Solar Fridge Guide: Staying Cool Off The Grid
Learn about the different types of solar fridges and which one works the best.
Learn about the different types of solar fridges and which one works the best.
A solar fridge has many advantages over its conventional counterpart. Unlike conventional refrigerators, which run on electricity that is likely generated by burning fossil fuels, a solar fridge runs on energy provided directly by the sun.
A solar fridge is also the best sort of cooler for off-the-grid locations where AC power is not available and no conventional fridges dare to tread. They can keep food preserved without the need for utility-provided power, a major advantage in undeveloped areas where electricity availability is intermittent and unreliable.
We recommend the GoSun Chill for your go-to solar fridge, but these advantages listed below can apply to other brands (albeit less well).
Lead battery solar fridge
The earliest modern solar-powered refrigerators and vaccine coolers (which were critical for disaster relief groups who worked far from any electrical grids) used a combination of solar panels and lead batteries, which stored energy for cloudy days and at night in the absence of sunlight to keep their contents cool. Such fridge required heavy lead-acid batteries, which could quickly deteriorate in hot climates. The batteries also wore out quickly and had to be replaced every three years, and contained hazardous materials.
Thermal energy solar fridge
Solar-powered refrigerators got an upgrade in the mid-1990s from lead batteries to phase change materials, which stored thermal energy rather than chemical energy. They did not require batteries, instead using thermal energy from solar power.
New Thermoelectric Refrigerators that ran or batteries were inexpensive, but the biggest disadvantage of most of these solar-powered refrigerators, is that they utilized thermoelectric chips. These TE portable refrigerators could only provide cooling of about 35 degrees from air temperature and cannot produce ice.
Lithium batter solar fridge (GoSun)
In contrast, a portable lithium battery pack powers the GoSun Solar Cooler. By combining the technology of brushless compressor technology, with the insulated air gap canopy due to the shading from the GoSun Solar Table, the GoSun Cooler can be powered directly by the portable solar panel or the rechargeable lithium battery. The GoSun Cooler is also completely portable, allowing the consumer to fold up the solar table easily and with its built-in wheels and pull out handle-- take it to the beach, while camping, fishing, sailing, or enjoy it in the backyard.
GoSun, the company that revolutionized solar cooking through its patented solar technology, is now launching the GoSun Chill. Supporting its mission to provide homeowners a way to utilize solar for all their cooking and portable electrical needs and to allow them to be prepared in case of emergencies. GoSun is introducing a portable, affordable and fuel-free solar powered cooler/refrigerator/freezer and charging system. The GoSun Solar Cooler utilizes energy from the sun to power a highly efficient DC cooler to keep drinks or food cool, or to freeze, eliminating the need for ice for a cooler.
The Solar Cooler incorporates a portable solar table that has attachable solar photovoltaic panels and a lightweight, compact battery system, that allows for a completely portable power and cooling system. Plus, the shading of the table allows the cooler to stay even colder, even in direct sunlight and operate at temperatures down to -18 degrees c, ( 0 degrees F).
It is important to note, that other portable, battery electric coolers utilize thermoelectric chips, which can only provide cooling of about 35 degrees from air temperature and cannot produce ice. But by combining the technology of brushless compressor technology, with the insulated air gap canopy, the GoSun Cooler can be powered directly by the portable solar panel or the rechargeable lithium battery. The GoSun Cooler is also completely portable, allowing the consumer to fold up the solar table easily and with its built-in wheels and pull out handle-- take it to the beach, while camping, fishing, sailing, or enjoy it in the backyard.
A portable lithium battery pack powers the GoSun Solar Cooler. The large 150 watt-hour solar power pack can also power laptops, cell phones, and many other portable accessories, making it the perfect outdoor product to be prepared for a power outage or emergency.
A solar refrigerator is a cooling unit that uses energy provided by the sun through solar thermal or photovoltaic energy to keep perishable foods from spoiling. They are growing in popularity due to advances in lithium-ion battery technology that allow solar fridges to be light enough for portability yet hold enough charge to cool food for hours or even days. Plus, they require no ice, making them ideal for off-the-grid locations where AC power is not available.
Older versions of portable refrigerators used kerosene, which had several disadvantages to a solar fridge. They burned up to a liter of kerosene per day, mitigating off-the-grid possibilities. Plus kerosene is costly and smelly, and produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide.
A solar fridge provide a means for keeping food safe and preserved without the need to connect to utility-provided power. They can also be used in cottages, camps, and other domiciles as an alternative to absorption refrigerators, as they can run year-round without fears of freon leaks or other chemical concerns.
A solar fridge for camping has numerous advantages over a regular cooler. Here are three of them (although these advantages may not apply to all models of solar coolers).
First, there is no need for ice. Tired of having food turned into a soggy mush if it isn't protected by three layers of Ziploc bags? Tired of having to drive into town every 24 hours to replenish your supply of ice? Tired of being unable to completely disconnect from the grid? A solar fridge for camping is the way to get out of the ice age. Plus you can now utilize 100 percent of the space within a cooler when ice isn't part of the equation.
Second, a solar fridge for camping can ironically help you to stay more grid connected by being able to recharge your electronic devices. In the case of the GoSun Solar Cooler, it is powered by a portable lithium battery pack. The large 150 watt-hour solar power pack can also power laptops, cell phones, and many other portable accessories, making it the perfect outdoor product to be prepared for a power outage or emergency. The detachable power bank packs enough juice to charge your phone 20 times over.
Third, the highest-end models can be charged off the grid in only a few hours. In the case of the GoSun Solar Cooler, you can recharge the battery with the solar table, equipped with a 60w panel that delivers a full charge in just three hours and keeps the solar fridge shaded.
How much ice do you need to get your drinks cold when using a cooler? According to estimates from Business Insider, the ratio is ten pounds for every 12 drinks. That's a lot of ice—the weight of the coolant ends up being far heavier than the weight of the drinks you and your friends are about to enjoy. Plus it costs $1-3 each time you fill up your cooler.
The volume needed for ten pounds of ice is wasted space that could fit plenty of extra cans or bottles of beer. But if no ice is needed to keep your drinks cool—which is the situation with such electric devices as GoSun's solar cooler—then the math is very different.
Before we talk about the carrying capacity of a solar fridge, let's take a closer look at the calculations that show us how much ice we need to chill a drink. Here's how they break down the math:
Let's say I have one can of soda or beer... I am assuming the drink (and the aluminum can) start at 22 degrees C. The key here is that the change in energy of the ice (turning to water) plus the change in energy of the drink must be zero. The problem is with the change in energy of the ice. If you assume all the ice melts and all of this energy comes from the decrease in thermal energy from the drinks, the drink could end up colder than the starting temperature of the ice.
And while this is okay in terms of conservation of energy, it just doesn't happen... This says that with 100 grams of ice, you could end up with a mixture of zero degrees Celsius of water with your drink. Expanding this to a six-pack (of drinks, not my stomach) you would need 600 grams of ice.
What if I think of this in a different way? Instead of determining the amount of ice, suppose I purchase a 10-pound (4.5 kg) bag of ice? How many drinks would this cool down? Using the same calculations above, I get eighteen drinks.
So, what is the answer? I think I would recommend one 10-pound bag for every twelve drinks. This way, not all the ice will melt and you can keep your drinks cool for a longer period of time.
That's a lot of ice. Fortunately, it is completely removed from the equation when a solar cooler comes into play.
A portable lithium battery pack powers the GoSun Solar Cooler (its 150 watt-hour solar power lithium battery pack can also power laptops, cell phones, and many other portable accessories).
How much beer can it hold?
If you use the GoSun Solar Cooler, it holds 21 bottles of beer, or 55 cans of beer or soda. Based on the size of your ice cooler, this is is an increased capacity of 30 to 50 percent since you do not have to make any room for ice. That's a great reason for using a solar cooler if there ever was one.
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