Solar panels are becoming a more mainstream option for people looking to power their household appliances. A refrigerator/ freezer is in every homeowner’s list of priority appliances since it keeps their food, beverages, and dairy products safe.
A solar panel can run a freezer. With the right solar power system in place, renewable solar energy can be used to run all your household appliances or just your refrigerator/freezer.
You can choose to have an efficient on-grid solar system installed by a company in your area to power your entire home. Alternatively, you can purchase the equipment and set up your off-grid system, specifically for your freezer.
A common concern for buyers and users is that refrigerators need an uninterrupted power supply, which may not be possible with solar energy. However, with recent improvements in solar power technology, a comprehensive solar power system can be installed to eliminate this worry.
How does a solar panel system work?
Solar panels harvest sunlight, a clean and renewable source, to create electricity. The panels generate direct current (DC), which is then converted to alternating current (AC) by using an inverter. Most homes and appliances run on AC power.
Here’s a simple step-by-step breakdown of how a solar panel works:
- Solar panels consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells. Each of these cells has two layers of silicon – a common material used in electronics.
- Most manufacturers inject the top layer of silicon with phosphorus to provide a negative charge and boron in the bottom layer to provide a positive charge. This creates an electric field.
- When sunlight strikes the PV cells, photons are absorbed. This process leads to electrons being knocked free from their orbits and into the electric field. This is how DC power is created. The process is known as the Photovoltaic Effect.
- Solar power systems have inverters that convert DC to AC power.
- The AC electricity is then used to power your home or specific appliances.
There are two types of solar power systems – on-grid and off-grid. An on-grid system runs on solar energy but is still connected to the primary utility grid in your area. Electricity generated through solar panels is sent to the central grid and then to your home. Some areas have net metering programs where users are paid if they produce excess electricity.
An off-grid system is not connected to the main utility grid and runs independently. It is set up by the user, who has complete control over the equipment used and the electricity generated. If excess electricity is produced, then users can store them in batteries for later utilization. These batteries can act as a backup if the main solar power system malfunctions.
Running your freezer using solar panels.
If you opt for an on-grid solar power system, running your freezer on solar panels is quite simple. You just have to contact a solar system provider near your home, get a quote, and have the solar panels installed with ease.
On-grid solar power systems are a one-time investment with companies typically charging for the equipment and installation. These systems also use the area’s primary utility grid as a backup, so your freezer always stays on.
If you prefer an off-grid system and want to install one yourself, you can use these steps:
Calculating the Power Consumption of the Freezer
Most refrigerators have their power consumption details on the nameplate rating label. This label is usually stuck on the refrigerator’s body and lists the appliance’s voltage and current demands. Multiply these two factors to get the total number of watts needed.
For example, if a refrigerator lists 120 volts and 4.5 amps of current, then it requires 540 watts of power.
A medium-sized solar battery can store around 1400 watt-hours of power. A watt-hour is a term used to indicate the capacity of a battery. Ideally, you should keep your batteries at least 50% full. It is never a good idea to drain your battery completely. So you’d have around 720 Watt-hours of usable power.
When choosing your battery, also keep in mind that there won’t be sunshine every day. You need to generate enough power to keep your appliances on when the clouds set in. So ideally, if your freezer requires 840 watts a day and you want adequate power to run it for four days, then you’d need to generate around 3400 Watts.
To produce enough power, you need to connect multiple batteries. If you need to generate an average of 3400 watts, then 3 of the 1400 watt-hour batteries are required. This could increase to 6, keeping the 50% full condition in mind. To maintain better battery health, do not connect too many batteries in parallel.
Rather than connect many batteries together, buy larger-sized batteries with higher capacities. While smaller batteries are more portable and lower-priced, larger batteries are more durable and better in the long term.
Number of Solar Panels
Now that we know how much power needs to be generated to run your freezer efficiently, it’s time to figure out how many solar panels are required. If a 100-watt solar panel generates around 75 watts an hour on sunny days, then in 5 hours of sunshine, you’d be generating approximately 375 watts on an average day.
So to generate 3400 watt-hours over four days, you’d need around 8 to 10 of the 100-watt solar panels. This is just to run the freezer. You can reduce or increase the number of panels based on other appliances you want to run, the wattage of the solar panel, and your budget.
An inverter converts DC power to AC power, which is needed to run your appliances. Although they are not 100% efficient, choosing a good inverter is a must. Cheap, inefficient inverters can lead to users losing out on a lot of power. In some cases, inferior inverters could lose around 50% of the electricity generated!
Always check an inverter’s efficiency rating before making your purchase. If you buy lower efficiency inverter, then make sure to account for this in your battery and solar panel calculations.
An off-grid solar system can be a significant investment, considering the number of panels, batteries, and additional equipment needed just to run a refrigerator/ freezer. It might not be an excellent option for everyone, but it is suitable for remote locations or areas where the power goes out frequently.
An on-grid system is adequate for most city dwellers. If you are looking to set up your off-grid system, then you better be prepared to loosen those purse strings. The pricing of the panels and other materials lead many users to turn away from an off-grid setup.
Solar power systems are beneficial for both users and the planet. It is an excellent option for running appliances in your home, including your freezer. While an on-grid system is an obvious option for most homeowners, independent individuals, and those who live in remote areas can invest in an off-grid system.
With solar panel prices plunging over the last two decades, more and more users are opting for solar power systems over the traditional utility grid. If you are among the people that want to set up your solar panels to run your freezer, you can use the above-listed factors to help you.
Always do your research to make sure you choose the right type of system and equipment needed.