As is pretty obvious, it is much more efficient for refrigerators to be configured in chest form. Why else are so many stores totally willing to run their freezers twenty four/seven without even a lid? The cold air becomes notably heavy and just sits in the bottom of the box.
On the other hand, it’s also pretty obvious that upright orientations are more handy for daily use. Sigh. Well, as in most things when you are off-grid, it seems that efficiency must win out over ease of use. In this particular case, our lack of a fridge for the past two months has made us feel that having a fridge, ANY fridge is worth the small hassle of digging down for items, rather than searching deep into unknown recesses.
When we were first married and purchased our conventional house back in Kitchener, my parents presented us with the wonderful gift of a small deep freeze. It has served us very well over the past number of years, generally stocked with many pounds of cheese and butter, as well as other delicious goodies (and the occasional hard disc – of course you know freezing a dead hard disc is the first line of action in data recovery, right?).
When the time came for us to move here, I was at first of the line of thought that a freezer would not be realistic, at least, not in the near future. But, as a means to store items, I thought it would be okay, so I willingly had it loaded into our moving truck. (As I recall, I was actually too sick to move it, and my father did it amazingly and single-handedly!)
After connecting up our solar power generating station, a fridge was the next logical item to add. It only took a very short time of checking on the prices of high efficiency fridges designed for off-grid use before my mind opened up. A bit of research brought me around to this website where the author had home-built a replacement thermostat for his freezer to turn it into a surprisingly efficient fridge!
I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into all those components though, in spite of the fact that I’m not afraid of a soldering iron. Further research brought me around to many homebrewing websites where the more adventurous individuals had converted their freezers into “kegerators”. These conversions were usually done with a Johnson Controls model A19AAT-2C. It cost me just north of $100 Canadian to get it shipped from The Beverage Factory.
So far both the thermostat and freezer are working out well. I do need to beef up my power station though – it gradually ran down my batteries, and I had to spend about eight or nine hours listening to the generator yesterday to get them back up to full. I’m hoping that being able to point the solar panel to the sun will help greatly – that’s my next project!
In any case, it worked better than I expected, and having fresh and cold food sure is an awesome thing. This whole lifestyle makes me appreciate the conveniences I’ve always taken for granted much more!
Time to head to town to get (hopefully) the final parts for my solar mount.