How Much Solar Power do I Need to Run a Refrigerator?
Those that are looking to install a full off-grid solar power system often ask how much solar power they will need to generate in order to run basic household appliances. Even if you are just looking to off-set some of your electricity costs with solar power, it is useful to know how much solar power you will need to generate to put a significant dent in your monthly electricity bills.
This is why we are going to explain how you can determine how much solar power you will need to run your refrigerator. After we have explained how you can calculate how much power you will need to power your refrigerator, you will then be able to calculate the power needs for all of your appliances and portable electronics.
Calculating the Energy Requirements of Your Refrigerator
Each electrical appliance will require a specific amount of power to run. As you would expect, the power requirements for a small coffee maker are significantly different than the energy needs of a full-size refrigerator.
While refrigerators have relatively large power requirements, it is worth noting that not all refrigerators will require the same amount of power. Older models tend to drain more power than the more energy efficient newer models, while larger refrigerators will need more power than a smaller mini-fridge.
This is why it is important to calculate the exact energy requirements of your specific refrigerator before you go out and start shopping for solar panels. There are different ways you can determine the power needs of your specific refrigerator:
Method #1: Find the Energy Guide Label
While it may sound obvious, the easiest way to determine the power requirements of your refrigerator is to simply read the energy rating label. Since the 1980s, most appliance manufacturers have been required to participate in the Energy Guide program. As part of the program, appliances will come with a highly visible black and yellow sticker that will clearly state the energy requirements for that appliance, as well as an estimated cost of running it for a full year.
If your refrigerator is not brand new, you have probably already peeled the sticker off the front door; however, there are still ways you can quickly locate the information. For starters, you can usually find Energy Guide information inside the instruction manual of any appliance, by searching the manufacturer’s website, or by contacting their customer service department. Since refrigerators are large appliances, they also usually have a second sticker at the back.
Energy Guide labels will tell you the estimated annual electricity use of your refrigerator in kilowatt hours, or kWh. This information is exactly what you need to determine the fridge’s solar power needs.
Method #2: Find the Quoted Power Rating
If your refrigerator is an older model, or you cannot find Energy Guide information, you should be able to find the quoted power rating. This information is almost always added beside the product’s serial number and it will be listed in watts.
If you can find the voltage and required amperes, you can multiply the two in order to find the power requirements in watts. A simple equation you can use is Amps x Volts = Watts.
If all else fails and you cannot find the information anywhere, you might be better off simply estimating your refrigerator’s power requirements. Any modern Energy Star-rated refrigerator will use about 350kWh annually, while older, less efficient models will usually run closer to 600 kWh.
Calculating Running Watts Once You Have the Power Rating
Once you have the annual kWh requirements of your refrigerator, you can determine the running watts, which will tell you how much energy your solar panels will need to generate each day in order to power the appliance.
Once you have discovered the annual kWh energy consumption of your fridge, you will simply divide that number by 365, as this is the number of days in the year. From there, you can divide that number by 24, which will give you the watts required per hour.
For example, if your refrigerator had an annual energy rating of 365kWh, it would require 1kWh per day. Once divided by the 24 hours in a day, you would have a running watts requirement of 0.042kW/h, as 1kWh ¸ 24 = 0.042. This means you would require a solar power system that could supply 42W per hour, as a kWh is equivalent to 1,000W.
Determining Your Solar Panel Requirements
Once you have the energy requirements for your refrigerator, as well as any other electronics you plan on running with solar power, you can begin assembling an appropriate solar array. Selecting solar panels is actually fairly straightforward, especially when you already know your energy requirements. This is because solar panels are usually sold according to the amount of energy they produce in watts.
We carry a high efficiency 100 Watt Solar Panel and a 200 Watt Solar Panel, both of which are available at affordable prices and would be perfect for those looking to build a basic solar power system to supply enough power to run a refrigerator.
However, given the fact that refrigerators are classed as large appliances and have relatively large power requirements, you would most likely be better off going with one or more 300W solar panels. If you are new to solar power, or you would just like to know more about 300W panels, we encourage you to read through our Complete Guide to 300 Watt Solar Panels, which will explain factors that influence 300W solar panel efficiency, the power output of a 300W panel, and recommended brands you should look out for.
You can also shop our Entire Solar Panel Collection to find the exact solar panels you require for your specific power needs. We carry high-quality solar panels of all sizes from some of the best manufacturers in the entire solar industry.
Will You Need a Solar Battery and a Power Inverter?
Running a refrigerator off of solar power is not quite as easy as connecting it to a series of solar panels. Given the fact that refrigerators draw power 24 hours a day, it would be impossible to power one using only solar panels. Solar panels only produce electricity when they are exposed to sunlight, so you will need to connect the panels to both a battery and an inverter to provide constant power to your refrigerator.
In simple terms, the solar panels will generate electricity throughout the day, then that power will be converted to AC power and stored in a battery bank, which will be able to supply power to the fridge after the sun has set.
Sizing the Power Inverter and Battery:
Just like you need to size your solar panels, you will also need to purchase a power inverter and a solar battery that can actually handle the load your refrigerator requires. The power inverter should be able to handle roughly twice as much power as the maximum load you require.
For example, if your refrigerator required 1kWh per day, you should look for a 2,000W power inverter. For your battery, you want to make sure that it can store more than enough electricity to power your refrigerator for 24 hours, as there will be cloudy days when your solar panels cannot operate at full efficiency.
Since you will be connecting your solar panels to a battery bank, you will also need to purchase an appropriate charge controller. The charge controller will protect your battery by preventing overcharge issues, as overloading any battery can result in permanent damage.
Purchasing a Complete Solar Kit:
If all of this sounds overwhelming, do not worry, it is possible to simply purchase a complete solar kit. Solar kits are incredibly convenient, especially if you are just starting out with solar power. They come with everything you need to get started and, in most cases, bundling all of your solar equipment will keep the prices down and save you money.
Our Lion Energy 400-Watt Beginner Solar Panel Kit is a great place to start. In one convenient and affordable package, you get a foldable 100W solar panel, a 25-foot solar panel cable, a Savanna CC solar charge controller, a Savanna IV 400W power inverter, and a Safari UT 250 lithium solar battery.
Not only does this solar kit come with everything you need to immediately start generating environmentally-friendly solar power, it is expandable, meaning you will be able to upgrade individual components as your power needs and experience level grows. You can also add additional solar panels, which will reduce the amount of time it takes to fully charge the battery.
While determining the power needs of your particular refrigerator may seem somewhat complicated, it is important that you take the time to do the proper calculations. Running an appliance that you use on a daily basis off of pure solar energy is a beautiful feeling. Not only will you save money on your monthly electricity bill, you will know that you are making an environmentally-friendly decision.
If you have any further questions about the power requirements of your appliances, or any other questions relating to solar power, please feel free to contact us at any time!
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