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Solar generators have become more powerful and affordable, but the question remains, can a solar generator power a refrigerator? Our title says yes, and we will show you the numbers why this is possible. As with everything solar though, several factors come into play.
A 2000W solar generator is the minimum required to run a typical 800-1200 watt refrigerator. An energy efficient refrigerator is the best option as they consume less power.
Refrigerator Wattage Use Chart
Let us begin by looking at the most widely used refrigerator types and how many watts they use. This will give you an idea of what solar generator size is suitable. Keep in mind these are based on typical usage. Your mileage may vary depending on the refrigerator make and model.
So using the table below, you can tell that a solar power station like the BLUETTI AC200P can run a 17 cu. ft. frost free refrigerator, as it has a 2000 watt capacity.
|Refrigerator Size (Energy Star Compliant)
|14 cu.. ft.
|34 kwh / month
1.13 kwh / day
|17 cu. ft. frost free
|35 kwh / month
1.16 kwh / day
|19 cu. ft. frost free
|45 kwh / month
1.5 kwh / day
|21 cu. ft. side by side
|50 kwh / month
1.6 kwh / day
|24 cu. ft. frost free
|55 kwh / month
1.8 kwh / day
|25 cu. ft. side by side
|60 kwh / month
2 kwh / day
|Mini fridge 1-2 cu. ft.
|700 W / day
50-65 W / hour
Here’s how older refrigerators compare to Energy Star models.
|Refrigerator Type (Non Energy Star Compliant)
|15 cu. ft. frost free
|150 kwh / month
5 kwh / day
|15 cu. ft. Freezer manual defrosting
|90 kwh / month
3 kwh / day
The key takeaways from these tables are:
- The mini fridge is the most energy efficient. It won’t take up up a lot room in an RV either. For camping and weekend adventures, it is the ideal solution.
- Energy Star refrigerators are more efficient than older models.
- If you’ve got an older fridge, consider replacing it with an Energy Star compliant product. You’ll end up saving more money down the line. They also put less stress on solar generators.
To find out what generator size you need for a fridge:
- Note how many hours or days you will use the refrigerator.
- Use the chart above to calculate how many watts your fridge will need based on your usage.
- Buy a solar generator that matches or exceeds the refrigerator wattage consumption.
- Use solar panels or other power sources to keep the generator charged. This is necessary to run the fridge for several days.
How Long Do You Need to Use the Refrigerator?
You need to plan carefully before deciding to use solar power to run a refrigerator. Here are some common scenarios and how you may approach it.
As noted earlier, a typical refrigerator uses 100-150WW per hour or 1000W-1500W (1-1.5kwh) a day. A fully charged 1500W generator can run it for a entire day. But what if you need to run the fridge again tomorrow? The generator is empty and needs to recharge. Unless you’ve got another power source you can’t use the fridge.
There is a workaround here though. Get a bigger solar generator. If your fridge needs 1500W daily, get a 3000W generator. When the generator energy level drops, recharge it with solar panels or electric power.
If you don’t have access to electrical power, connect solar panels to the generator. Charging with solar panels usually can’t match the generator’s energy loss, but with a large capacity (in this case, 3000W), it should be enough. With sufficient solar panels you can keep the fridge running infinitely on solar power.
Let’s look at a real life scenario. You have a 14 cu. ft. refrigerator and want to run it on solar power. The fridge uses 100Wh or 1000W a day. You buy a 3000W solar generator and run the fridge. Without charging the generator, its capacity drops to 50% at the end of day.
But if you have solar panels attached to the generator, you can keep it charged. The charge rate won’t be as fast as the depletion rate (refrigerators, like air conditioners), use a lot of energy), but it will still be enough to keep the fridge running.
Do I Need Additional Power Sources to run a Fridge?
As long as the sun is out you can keep the system perpetually charged. With the capacity double that of the fridge’s requirements, it should be enough during cloudy days. Note that this generator is only for the refrigerator. You need a separate power source for other appliances.
This is why solar power users always have additional energy sources. You don’t want to overcharge the batteries, so a backup (electrical power, gas generator etc.) is essential. it is possible to run a refrigerator on solar power for days even, but it’s not practical for many. You need a powerful generator, solar panels and batteries. And all for one appliance.
This shouldn’t stop you from running a fridge entirely on solar. If you have the means and can set up the system go for it. For most though, they will use solar generator to power a fridge for a few hours or days at most. That’s what we’ll look at next.
if you’re camping for a few days in your RV, a 1000W+ portable solar generator is enough. Your best options are the Jackery 1000 and the1800W (3300W surge) EF ECOFLOW. These generators can handle 800W surges without breaking down.
An 1800W-3000W can run a good sized refrigerator for hours. it’s probably overkill for a mini fridge. But you can run a few other appliances alongside it. An average refrigerator uses so much energy it uses up the entire generator. With a mini fridge there’s energy for other deices you need to use.
Solar Powered Refrigerators
These are similar to the mini fridge but run on solar power. Most are 1-2 cu. ft. but larger models in the 5-7 cu. ft. range are available. They are ideal for campers and RVs because of the compact size. However the creative design allows you to store a generous amount of food and drinks.
You don’t really need a solar generator to run these. They have solar panels built in so just leave it out in the sun and it will start charging. The specifics vary depending on the product, but generally they work like any other solar powered product. For more info on how solar powered refrigerators work, go here.
Solar powered refrigerators have batteries to store solar energy. This allows you to use the fridge during night time or cloudy days. Some also have electric outlets so you can use AC power. The biggest advantage though is the portability. The size makes them attractive to campers, RVers and outdoor enthusiasts who want to store food without bringing a full sized fridge along.
For the longest time, the idea of running a refrigerator with solar power was considered a myth. With a 1000W or more generator, you can run a fridge. With solar powered refrigerators becoming more commonplace, you have even more options. It’s just a matter of going out there and buying what you need.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.