Suppose you have solar panels fulfilling a specific portion of your electricity requirements; in that case, it is very natural for you to want to power your refrigerator with this ultimate source of green energy. After all, refrigerators are the 24/7 running appliance spiking your electricity bills and sucking your wallet, right?

The good news is that we can power a refrigerator with a few extra solar panels. However, they consume more energy in comparison to your solar lighting system. You will require about three to four regular solar panels to power your refrigerator. Nonetheless, it also depends upon the size of your refrigerator and its type.

If you possess an average energy star-rated refrigerator of 120 volts, 15 amperes, and around 19 cubic feet in height, it will take you about three regular solar panels to power them. Additionally, your solar panels should be able to produce at least 300 watts of energy.

A mini-fridge consumes less power compared to a double door. Additionally, older refrigerator models consume an extensively large amount of energy in comparison to the newer ones.

How about we check our refrigerator before investing in that extra pair of solar panels? Let us dive straight into calculating the number of solar panels we will need to offset the cost of cooling our favorite drinks!

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Calculating the energy requirement of your refrigerator 

Did you know that the amount of energy required to start and keep your refrigerator running also depends upon the amount of food we have in store?

Refrigerators have diverse energy requirements. Hence, the primary task to figure out before understanding the number of solar panels required is the energy rating.

Here are some methods you can figure out the power rating of your refrigerator:

  • Typically, you will find a sticker with the energy rating label on the door of your refrigerator. The stickers are usually somewhere in between 200kWh and 600kWh.
  • And if you might have peeled off the energy guide information, you can quickly check the manufacturer’s website or contact the customer service department for assistance.
  • Chances are, there will be an extra sticker at the back of your fridge.

Energy guide labels or energy ratings will help you determine the estimated annual electricity consumption of your refrigerator. 

Just what you need to find out the fridge’s power requirement!

Let’s assume the energy rating of your fridge is 730 kWh. Now, divide this annual energy rating by 365 to get the daily energy consumption. Here, it is 2 kWh per day.

Secondly, it is necessary to figure out how much your solar panels generate solar power. On average, a residential solar panel produces at least 240 to 250 watts during peak production hours.

Suppose your solar panel produces 240 watts for 5 hours a day; 240 X 5 ÷ 1000 gives us 1.2 kWh.

According to the calculation above,

  • Your refrigerator requires 2 kWh per day.
  • Your solar panel produces 1.2 kWh per day.

Therefore, you will require at least two solar panels to power your refrigerator.

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*Kilowatt-hours and the number of solar panels required

Battery backup for a solar-powered refrigerator

Unless you plan on switching off your refrigerator during the night, you will be required to invest in a good battery backup. After all, your fridge is bound to shut down at night as there is no sun.

Henceforth, it would be best to connect the solar panels to an inverter and battery to receive an uninterrupted power supply for your refrigerator. The battery and the inverter should be able to handle the load without being depleted. Hence, invest in a good one with a long shelf-life.

If your refrigerator requires at least 1kWh of energy per day, you should opt for a 2,000-watt power inverter. 

As for the battery backup, you need to ensure that it can store enough electricity to power your refrigerator for around 24 hours. Remember to be mindful of the rainy and cloudy days!

How long do refrigerators run on solar panels?

The run time of your solar-powered refrigerator depends upon various factors, including the seasons. For instance, in hot weather, your fridge will require more energy to keep it cool inside.

The energy consumption of your fridge is highly dependent upon the operating conditions. 

The run time of your refrigerator will typically depend upon three factors:

  • What is the total amount of solar power produced?
  • Is the battery storage enough for when the sun is not present?
  • How much power does your refrigerator consume?

Factors that affect the power requirements of your refrigerator

Well, if you want to reduce the power consumption of your fridge, make sure you strictly avoid frequent and unnecessary opening and closing of the refrigerator door. The food inside your fridge will remain cooler longer without consuming much energy if the outdoor heat does not flow inside.

Make sure to inspect the door seals regularly.

The ambient temperature of your refrigerator also has a significant contribution in affecting power consumption.

And, if your refrigerator does not have a freezer, you’re in luck! They consume a considerably smaller amount of energy. Less energy requirement equals fewer solar panels!

To conclude

Initially, calculating the number of solar panels for the particular model of refrigerator you have might have seemed like rocket science. However, I am sure you are well familiar with the ABCs of this effortless calculation by now.

Running your electrical appliances with solar power might seem like a drastic shift, but it is definitely worth the effort. After all, how cool is it to serve ice cream chilled in an environmentally-friendly refrigerator and flex about it to your guests?

(Last Updated on September 27, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!