Solar power is becoming widely attractive, particularly to power large household appliances such as refrigerators. If you want renewable energy to run your refrigerator, you must first configure the proper solar power system.

Black Solar Panels On Brown Roof
Black Solar Panels On Brown Roof | Image Credit – Vivint Solar

Suppose you have an on-grid solar system and have been wondering about the power needs for your refrigerator. In that case, you will be relieved to know that it is simple to operate a refrigerator on solar energy. You essentially need to contact a solar panel provider and have them set up the panels at your residence.

However, suppose you rely on an off-grid solar system that you assembled yourself. In that case, you must consider a few critical factors to guarantee that your refrigerator remains operational even on cloudy days. Calculating how much energy your solar panel system yields compared to how much you need requires some math, but it is not difficult.

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How much energy do refrigerators need?

Refrigerator | Image Credit – Flickr

Most people are aware that refrigerators consume a significant amount of electricity. Later versions are becoming more energy-efficient while adding more functionalities. The first thing most people are told to look into when looking to save money on electricity is gadgets. Older equipment, particularly refrigerators, consumes a lot of energy. 

Many people support their years-old “vintage” refrigerators, but they are the most inefficient appliances when it comes to energy fuel economy. Energy-efficient refrigerators can use as few as 225-kilowatt hours per year, but they are also costly. Lower-cost refrigerators can also save on power bills, as many consume 500-kilowatt hours per year.

Energy-efficient refrigerators are essential for those who want to use solar panels to power their entire home. Because water heaters and refrigerators consume the most energy in the home, they consume most of the power generated by solar panels.

Solar Panels and Refrigerator: How many panels do you need?

How much solar panels
How much solar panels ?

Evaluate the Wattage of Your Solar Panels

The amount of solar power generated from the solar panels is determined by various factors, including the panels themselves, your configuration, and the climate. The average residential solar panel generates at least 250 watts during peak output. If a solar panel generates 250 watts for four hours per day, it generates 1 kWh of energy.

Assess the Wattage of Your Refrigerator

Your refrigerator may have an Energy Rating sticker that indicates the average kWh used per year. If not, consult the user guide for more details. Divide the annual usage by 365 to discover how many kWh your refrigerator utilizes in a day.

Divide the energy consumed by the energy produced

The remainder is simple now that you understand how much energy you produce and how much energy you require. Divide the energy needed by the electricity generated to determine the number of solar panels necessary.

For example:

Your solar panel generates 1 kWh per day

Your refrigerator uses 3 kWh per day

3 ÷ 1 = 3, so you need 3 solar panels to operate your refrigerator.

Note: You most likely have a standard household refrigerator at your residence. Ideally, you would require two to three solar panels to power that refrigerator using solar power. Solar panels commonly deliver 250 to 400 Watts of power.

Setting up a solar system for the refrigerator

In addition to solar panels, a solar power configuration appropriate for refrigerators necessitates the use of several types of equipment.

Solar Panels: An essential element of a solar system is the solar panel. A solar panel (also identified as a photovoltaic cell or solar cell) is a device that absorbs sunlight and converts it into electrical energy. Solar panels generate all of your solar energy.

Inverter: If you possess an inverter, it should be able to handle roughly twice the maximum load capacity. Hence, a 2,200w inverter should suffice. An inverter converts your battery’s direct current (DC) power to the alternating current (AC) power required by the refrigerator. There are numerous types of inverters available on the market to meet your needs, including the following:

  • Centralized or String Inverter with more nominal expense but inefficient.
  • Power Optimizer used to transform DC to AC and connected to a central inverter.
  • Micro Inverter has smooth and reliable operation even with low sunshine but is costly.

Battery: The battery must also be competent in handling the load without being eroded. You would require a battery bank with at least 300ah capacity.

Charge Controller: If you are going to build your solar system, you will also need a charge controller to connect the solar panels to the battery and keep it from overheating. The charge controller safeguards the battery from power fluctuations and guarantees that it gets the appropriate voltage and current at all times.

  • Simple – 1 and 2 Stage Charge Controllers: In an overvoltage, relay and shunt resistors are used to regulate the voltage in one or two stages and disengage the solar panel from the battery.
  • PWM – 3 Stage Charge Controllers: It is predicated on modulated pulses and the cutoff of the battery circuit from the attached solar panel from the photovoltaic cell in the event of overcharging.
  • MPPT Controllers: MPPT is a DC to AC converter in the case of solar panels array to the battery bank.

Why do you need a Solar Battery and a Power Inverter?

Power inverter
Power inverter | Image Credit – Flickr

Operating a refrigerator on solar power is more complicated than hooking it to a sequence of solar panels. Given that refrigerators require power 24 hours a day, powering one with only solar panels would be inconceivable. Solar panels only generate electricity when exposed to sunlight, so you must attach them to a battery and an inverter to deliver continuous power to your refrigerator.

The solar panels will produce electricity throughout the day, which will then be converted to AC power and deposited in a battery bank, allowing it to power the refrigerator after the sun goes down. Just as you must size your solar panels, you must also procure a power inverter and a solar battery capable of handling the load required by your refrigerator. The power inverter ought to handle approximately twice the amount of power required.

Tips to set up a solar-powered refrigerator 

If you have determined to go green by going solar, you should remember the following things:

  • Direct sunlight is needed for your solar panels to function correctly. So long as it captures the solar radiation, it will generate electricity. It will also slow down its operation on rainy days.
  • To maintain your refrigerator plugged overnight, you must purchase a complete solar kit. A complete solar panel kit is crucial for obtaining continuous power for a refrigerator that keeps your product fresh.
  • A complete solar kit also includes solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and charge controllers. The solar panel, which accumulates sun rays, is an essential component of the kit.
  • As a result, the solar panel produces only direct current (DC), insufficient for household usage. Because homes necessitate alternating current, a solar inverter is required.
  • Solar panel batteries are also essential for storing solar energy used at sundown when there is no solar energy.
  • The charge controller protects the battery from overcharging, which can destroy batteries.
  • Eventually, the solar panels’ power output may differ depending on the weather conditions. In hot summers, the high power output is visible from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. But this does not apply to winters.

Common FAQs around solar panels and refrigerators 

Is it viable to operate a refrigerator on a 100-watt solar panel?

No is the most common reaction to this inquiry. To operate a refrigerator, you will need more than 100 watts of solar energy. To run your refrigerator, you will need to know how many watts it consumes at startup and during the day. While every refrigerator is unique, the average fridge requires 400-700 watts to turn on and roughly 100-300 watts to keep cool. 

You can always buy several 100-watt solar panels and connect them with a large-capacity battery! A single 100-watt panel, on the other hand, is unlikely to power a refrigerator on its own.

Is it possible to operate a refrigerator on a 400-watt solar panel?

Yes, a 400-watt solar panel could power a refrigerator. Nevertheless, it is dependent on the sort of refrigerator you have. Often these 12-volt alternatives should be able to operate on a single 400-watt solar panel, but only the refrigerator and nothing more!

To Wrap Up

Green and sustainable energy is a hope for a better future. While the idea of a self-sufficient home powered by solar energy is appealing, understanding your home’s power demands is essential for running high-demand appliances like refrigerators. Solar panels are becoming more practical every time, but massive equipment like refrigerators consumes a lot of energy. Evaluating your energy requirements will enable you to design and operate a solar system ideal for you and your property.

(Last Updated on June 29, 2022 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!