Do you have a plan for how to keep your fresh food cold in the event of a power outage?
Part of my plan is to use this 12v fridge/freezer that I purchased 13 years ago for camping and off-roading. It’s an ARB 40 liter model, but similar units are available in the Engel and other brands, they’re all very similar. They can run off either 12v DC or 120v AC power. More information below on current models:
I wanted to determine how much current and power this fridge requires to stay cold for 24 hours. For the test, I pre-cooled the unit with 2 gallons of liquid inside for ~5 hours. Then I reset the power meter and recorded the amp- and watt-hours for 24 hours of operation. The fridge was outside in 55-75 degree temperatures for that period.
I found the overnight (16 hour) consumption was 12 amp-hours for 24 hours, it was 18.35 amp-hours and 218 watt-hours.
For comparison, my Energy Star refrigerator uses about 1400 watt-hours in 24 hours. And I looked up what an Energy Star mini-fridge uses and that is about 600 watt-hours per day.
Now this 40L (1.4 cu.ft.) fridge is at the low end of mini-fridge size, but at 1/3 the energy consumption, it makes an attractive off-grid solution.
I was able to run mine continuously on about 90 watts of solar panels and a couple of 35AH batteries. One other reason for doing this test is that I wanted to see how much capacity I would need if I wanted to set up a portable solar system for use in my truck. That way I could set up some folding panels and charge a battery during the day to run the fridge at night for extended camping. A 100W folding solar panel runs about $200, add in a small charge controller and battery and a decent portable system would cost under $300.
I would not classify myself as a “prepper”, but if I can do some basic preparation to be a little more comfortable in a power outage situation, by all means I’ll do them. I now know I can plug in the fridge into my solar power system and just leave it on if I need it. That makes it just like my house refrigerator, I never think about it, it is just there and works all by itself, same with this 12V fridge. That is one less thing to worry about in case the power is out for an extended time.
Anyone looking for an off-grid refrigeration system might consider something like this. There are also the 3-way powered RV refrigerator/freezes, that run off 12V, 120V and propane/LPG. I don’t have LPG at home, so that was not an option for me. One advantage of these 12V fridges is that they tolerate running at extreme angles, unlike the propane models that need to be fairly level.
Hope you enjoyed the video and found it informative. Stay tuned for a followup video where I’ll brine a turkey breast in preparation for smoking it on Thanksgiving.
Thanks for watching!