If you want to go off the grid using solar panels and solar energy, you must know your refrigerator energy needs. Aside from the air conditioner, the average refrigerator takes some of the highest energy in your home.
Of course, certain refrigerators require different power requirements.
Still, you have to figure out exactly how much power your refrigerator requires. This can be a difficult process without the right tools, resources, and help.
In this article, we will help you figure out how many panels you need and your solar power set up so you can supply power to your refrigerator. We answer key questions related to the topic and give you a step-by-step guide for determining your energy needs.
Let’s get started.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?
How much power does your refrigerator need? To put the question another way, how many panels are needed to run the refrigerator?
Unfortunately, we cannot answer these questions without a bit more information for one simple reason.
Your refrigerator’s power consumption will depend on a variety of factors. For example, an energy-efficient refrigerator or a small refrigerator will require less energy than inefficient or large refrigerators.
That being said, most refrigerators need between three and four solar panels to run properly. This may sound like a whole lot of solar panels, and it is.
This high amount isn’t shocking, though. Given that refrigerators have to perform a hefty job 24 hours a day, they need a lot of power.
Still, we have to dig a bit deeper to figure out the energy required to provide your individual refrigerator with enough power.
Step-by-Step Guide To Determine Your Fridge Needs
To determine how many solar panels and how much energy your refrigerator requires, you must make calculations. This math includes finding the power rating and running watts of the system.
Plus, figure out the right solar system that provides peak production for your fridge.
Here is how to quickly determine your refrigerator’s solar power requirements in three easy steps:
Step 1 – Find The Power Rating
The first thing to do is find the annual energy rating of your refrigerator or watts required. A full-size refrigerator needs a lot of power.
The easiest way to find out your fridge’s power rating is by checking out the energy rating label. If they made your refrigerator in the 1980s or after, it likely has an energy guide label.
This label will likely be on a black and yellow sticker.
You can also look at the energy guide information in your fridge’s instruction manual or quoted power rating. You should be able to find this instruction manual on your manufacturer’s website.
If you can find the power rating, it should be labelled in annual kWh energy consumption.
Energy Star rated refrigerators often require 350 kWh a year, whereas old or less efficient models require around 600 kWh.
Step 2 – Find Out Your Running Watts
Now, figure out the running watts for your refrigerator. Divide the annual kWh consumption by 365 (how many days are in a year).
Then, divide that number by 24 (how many hours are in a day). So you now know how many watts are required per hour.
Whatever that final number is, move the decimal to the right three digits to find the watts per hour. So, for example, step two should look like if the power rating is about 600 kWh per year.
- 600 / 365 = 1.64
- 1.64 / 24 = 0.068
- 0.068 = 68 W per hour
If your refrigerator requires 68 watts per hour, you need to make sure that your solar panel can provide that many. In other words, it needs to provide 1632 watts a day.
Step 3 – Get The Perfect Solar System
Now that you know how much power your refrigerator needs, you have to set up your solar panel system. Once you know your energy requirements, which you do, picking out solar panels will be pretty easy.
Average solar panels are almost always sold by how much energy they produce in watts. So, for example, you can buy a 1000W panel, and so on.
You will also need other items, like a charge controller and batteries.
What Else Do I Need?
If you thought calculating your solar energy requirements was hard, you are not out of the water yet. Another difficult part of powering your refrigerator with solar panels is getting everything that is needed.
Unfortunately, you cannot hook up your fridge to solar panels and expect it to work. On the contrary, the panels need several items, including a solar battery, power inverter, and charge controller.
Battery and Inverter
If you have a strong enough solar panel, you might be confused why a battery and inverter is needed. The answer is actually pretty straightforward.
Solar panels only produce electricity whenever the sun is out. When it is nighttime, or clouds are obstructing your solar panels, they won’t produce energy.
Because refrigerators need solar power 24 hours a day, you have to rely on something more than just your solar panels for keeping your food fresh and healthy. It would help if you also had a battery and power inverters to keep the refrigerator cold even when the sun is down or weather conditions block the son.
The point of a solar battery is to retain some of the energy produced whenever the panels are converting sunlight into usable electricity. So, you can tap into that energy even when it is nighttime or cloudy.
Doing The Math
To find the right battery and inverter, you need to do more math.
Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to predict or estimate battery usage since the factors that impact the usage constantly fluctuate.
For example, sunlight exposure fluctuates based on location, time of year, and weather, such as clouds block the sun. More so, how much food is in your fridge impacts the results.
You will need to figure out the maximum load, how many amperes it provides, total wattage, amp-hours, devices with the same voltage, etc.
We recommend consulting solar battery guides to determine exactly what battery and additional parts you need based on your requirements. As a heads up, this math will be confusing and require many steps.
If you are not sold on the idea of buying every part individually, you could always opt for a complete solar kit. Many companies sell solar kits that provide everything you need for your solar power system.
Solar kits are great for beginners because they are highly convenient and take away every individual item’s stress. Not to mention, solar kits can help you save money if you shop wisely.
Where Does This Leave Us?
So, how many solar panels and power does my fridge need? After going through these formulas and factors, you might still be confused about how much power the solar panels and system need to produce.
On average, full-size refrigerators need about 100 watts a day. Unfortunately, old and inefficient models often need much more than that.
We still recommend doing the math based on your individual refrigerator. However, assuming that you have a refrigerator made after the 80s, the math is fairly simple and shouldn’t cause you much strain.
Can a 100-watt solar panel run a refrigerator?
A 100W panel isn’t enough to power a refrigerator. A 100W panel comes with two batteries. You will need to keep them charged at 50% or more. On average, it goes between 600 and 700 watts a day.
As a result, a 100W panel can power up a fridge for about a day. But, at the same time, the batteries will need two days to recharge completely.
The two-day recharge time means that a single 100W panel does not have the capacity for a regular refrigerator. You can use many 100W solar panels, though.
Can a 300-watt solar panel run a refrigerator?
In most cases, a 300-watt solar panel does not provide enough energy to power a refrigerator. If you live in an incredibly sunny area and are powering a small refrigerator, a 300-watt solar panel may work, but most regular refrigerators need more.
What appliances will a 100-watt solar panel run?
100W panels are not powerful enough for bigger appliances, but they are suitable for several devices, such as charging your phone, powering up lamps, or charging your laptop. Heaters, air conditioning systems, TVs, refrigerators, and other large appliances need more than a 100-watt solar panel.
How long will a 12-volt battery run a refrigerator?
A 12-volt battery will not run a refrigerator for very long. For example, if a car battery is disconnected, a 12V battery can provide enough power for your fridge for around 11 minutes at 50% discharge.
In around 21 minutes, the battery will be completely depleted of its juice.
This short lifespan means that a 12-volt battery is a terrible solution for refrigerator power. Instead, it would help if you had a battery with more power.
Is a battery for my solar-powered refrigerator really needed?
Solar panels produce energy if the sun is out. In contrast, an average refrigerator needs AC power and solar panel requirements all day and night.
Because refrigerators run 24 hours a day, you will need a battery. It ensures energy generated by your solar panels goes to use even at night.
When you get a battery, you will also need a solar charge controller. This controller keeps the battery from overcharging, racking up your net metering, and breaking.
Getting a battery bank will require more parts and math, but it is a necessary step if you want your refrigerator to run through solar panels. You will especially need them if you want to provide power to central air conditioners and other items.
Finding out how many solar panels you need isn’t easy. Although energy usage depends most on your individual refrigerator, you can pretty much assume that a 100W or 300W panel will not provide enough power for your refrigerator.
Since refrigerators run all day and are large items, they require a huge energy output from multiple solar panels.
Most likely, your full-size refrigerator will need 100 watts of power a day, but you should do the math yourself to confirm. From there, figure out which battery and inverter system are best for your solar panels and solar power.
Pay attention to the latest solar news to learn about new devices and technology! Good luck!