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Of all the appliances you own, your refrigerator is probably on the roster of the most important ones. It’s an appliance you use everyday – to store leftover food, keep your favorite fruits and veggies fresh, to chill your wine till its flavour sings through your tongue – and whatnot.
If your home is powered by solar panels, here’s the thing: No matter how small or how energy-efficient your refrigerator is, a 100W solar panel is simply not enough to power the appliance in the long run. The truth is that for your fridge to work efficiently, it requires at least 2000 Watt/Hours of energy – and that calls for enhanced firepower.
In this post, you will discover the science behind solar panels and refrigerator energy requirements, the number of panels needed, alternative uses of 100 W panels, and a lot more.
Solar power panels are handy for many reasons apart from saving the environment. But, there’s one shortcoming – you need a lot of them to power a house. Even if it is just a refrigerator, you’ll need more than just a 100W solar panel.
While it is possible to run a refrigerator for a short time on such a solar panel, you’ll need a battery for the long run. A 100W panel can only generate about 400 Watt/Hours of energy a day. In total, a refrigerator and freezer require at least 2000 Watt/Hours of energy throughout the day.
So, while it is entirely possible for smaller refrigerators or a large fridge for short periods – in the long run, a 100W solar panel isn’t going to be enough.
Identifying the number of solar panels required to run a fridge takes more than just eyeballing; it takes math. If a 200W solar panel can handle your refrigerator in the peak hour, then what happens during the night or early morning when there’s no sun?
Any number of solar panels you use will need to be decided through:
- Power used by the refrigerator through the day
- How much energy a solar panel can hold
- Battery capacity required to run the fridge through the day
Calculations are based on the manufacturer values of the fridge and the solar panels. It’s quickly done by professionals who have a more comprehensive understanding of the required power.
So, it’s established that it isn’t impossible to run a fridge on a 100W solar panel. While it won’t run for a long time – it will technically work. If you want to run it for a more extended period, you’ll need some additional equipment.
As long as the equipment suits the model of the refrigerator, you’ll be good to go!
Whatever kind of solar setup you have, you’ll need additional batteries. A fridge will not run consistently without the help of extra batteries.
The consistency of the power depends on the kind of sun the solar panels receive. If it’s a cloudy day, the energy received is lower. If your fridge requires more power, then your solar panel won’t be enough. It is in such cases that a battery comes in clutch.
Similarly, an inverter is an integral part of the setup. It’s a device that converts electricity from batteries. It takes it from direct current to alternating current!
Inverters are needed to switch the power received from the batteries to the same thing that’s coming in from the public power grid. But, batteries only have DC power while the main power grid supplies AC power. The inverter converts this power and supplies it to the fridge when required.
Usually, you would use an inverter ten times more potent than the number of Watts your fridge needs to run. This advice only helps for full-fledged refrigerators and not the smaller compressor fridges.
If you’re getting your home outfitted, then you’ll require an inverter!
The 100W solar panel is often a travel-friendly version of the massive ones we usually see. They’re perfect for traveling and hiking trips with no easy access to electricity. Hence, solar panels are great for powering small, compressed travel fridges.
But, there’s more to them than just running a fridge.
100W panels are beginner-friendly solar panels. They’re a great way to test out the waters before jumping in and buying yourself a fancier model. Not to mention, they come as kits.
You can always add panels to a 100W solar panel kit to make it bigger and better as time goes!
Even if you’re not hiking, camping, or outside in any way, the 100W solar panel can power up a few small devices. When you’re not using it exclusively for a mini-fridge, you can charge phones, laptops, light up lamps, run ceiling fans, start-up and run WiFi routers, and more.
Bigger appliances like fridges, TVs, air conditioning systems, and more can’t work on a 100W solar panel. They’ll require more juice!
Like any other solar panel, energy production depends wholly on the kind of sun they receive. But, at the peak of their efficiency, they’ll produce only 100W of energy. It comes with the proper installation, optimal sunlight, and the correct angle and direction.
If you get the conditions right, the panel will produce 100W!
The panels themselves cannot store energy; they can only produce it daily. But, it is necessary to store any excess energy created to not waste it. You can use it later in the night or during a cloudy day, but it needs to be stored somewhere.
Batteries are required to store this energy, but not any battery can store and disperse solar energy as needed. Some compatible types are – lead-acid batteries and Lithium-ion batteries.
Lead-acid batteries need almost double the capacity to store the energy, while lithium-ion batteries only need slightly more.
Solar energy is extremely useful for a home. It can be used in times of emergency and is much more environmentally safe. But, a 100W solar power panel is not recommended for an entire home.
A house requires a more complex and powerful system to be helpful and generate the power needed. But, if you’re just getting started, you can use a few panels to power a couple of devices in the house. While not recommended, it is possible.
A fridge requires a consistent electricity supply to keep the contents from spoiling and melting. On average, a refrigerator uses around 2000W of energy a day, and this quantum of power may be manageable, but it’s not reliable.
Solar power isn’t the most reliable. Cloudy days, rainy days, less intense sun, battery issues, inverter issues, and more can result in little to no energy supply. Therefore, using solar power for a refrigerator isn’t the best idea.
However, a good quality setup that has considered the multiple possibilities of energy failing might just work to power a fridge and freezer combination!
The power it takes to run a fridge depends on the make, manufacturer, type, and whether it comes with a freezer. Ideally, the average modern fridge uses between 80 to 300 watts, while smaller fridges can function on less than 65 watts!
Modern refrigerator manufacturers are looking to use the least power to keep food cold, fresh, and icy. But a freezer still takes up a chunk of the power. A full 21-cubic fridge with freezer will take up about 780W. A single 100W solar panel cannot run this type of fridge for a long time!
A 100W solar panel is a great choice for travel or small devices, but bigger homes usually require more than what they can provide. If you’re not convinced, you might be once you find out the battery a 100W solar panel can charge/.
A typical 12V 50Ah auto battery requires 2 hours to recharge from 20%. If it’s a lead-acid battery, it’ll take double the time (4 hours) to recharge fully from 50%.
4. What’s the benefit of using solar power for your refrigerator?
Sure, there are notable benefits to using solar power in a household. But, when using it specifically for a refrigerator, the same benefits apply – if a little tweaked.
They’re more environmentally friendly. Since a refrigerator isn’t the most climate change friendly device to exist as it uses and releases harmful chemicals and fumes, using solar can counteract the effects and make your house more sustainable.
It also takes your fridge off the centralized grid. Being off the grid means fewer power fluctuations and greater control of the electricity bill! While solar power isn’t the most reliable, it can be a constant, if not an emergency, source of energy for your fridge.
Having solar panels for your fridge – no matter how big or small – keeps it from losing power on those rare days. Even if a 100W panel isn’t enough to power your fridge for the whole day, it can definitely manage during a freak blackout.
If you’re looking to switch to a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of energy, then, by all means, go for solar energy. It’s low cost, low maintenance, and connects every part of your house.
Unlike other types, you can introduce solar into the home little bits at a time. You also won’t need to connect your fridge if you’re uncomfortable. On the other hand, you could connect only the main elements of your home and give up on your WiFi router.
It’s accessible, less expensive, and sustainable!