How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Power a Refrigerator?

  • By: Carl Adams
  • Time to read: 4 min.

How many solar panels does it take to run a refrigerator?

It seems like a pretty simple and straight forward question, a little more goes into it than you might think.

There are many things to consider when it comes to appliance energy consumption beyond what is stated in the product energy guide. Including, usage, climate, and how many times you open the door.

But, if you are in a hurry here is a quick answer.

Solar Panels Needed To Power a Refrigerator

Type of RefrigeratorNumber of 300W Solar Panels
Frigidaire 3.3-cu ft Mini Fridge1
Frigidaire 18-cu ft Top Freezer1
Samsung 25-cu ft French Door2
Based on Product Energy GuideBased on 4 hours of peak sun.

How did we come up with those numbers?

These estimates were done based on the average yearly energy consumption for each refrigerator included with the documentation.

The energy guide for the Samsung 25-cu ft french door refrigerator and freezer combo states that on average it will consume 630 kWh per year.

That is 630,000 Watts.

One 300W solar panel with four hours of peak sunlight produces 1200 Watts per day or 1.2 kW two produce 2400 Watts or 2.4 kW.

630,000 Watts / 365 Days = 1725 Watts

Leaving you with 675 Watts per day extra to be stored in your battery storage system or sold back to the power company through the grid. Keep in mind some of this may be lost due to the inefficiency of the system.

The loss due to inefficiency will be made up by the power produced by the solar panels at other times of the day. They will continue to produce, even off of peak sun, just not at full capacity, and not at night.

There is a little more to it…

If we are really going to figure out how many solar panels you need for your specific situation we are going to have to factor in a few things.

How many people live in your household? How many times per day does your refrigerator get opened? Where do you live? Is your house air-conditioned?

These are all important questions to ask because each one of these variables can change the answer to the question.

Where do you live?

This is important because if you live in California or Arizona you are probably going to get more bang for your buck on solar than someplace that experiences lots of overcast days and bad winters.

The good news is that solar efficiency has improved so much over the years that people living in these often overcast and snow-covered places are now getting as much return on their solar panels as California was years ago.

Also, you only need 4 peak hours of sunlight to produce the power required for the above table. Your solar panels will produce lesser amounts throughout the day improving your situation.

How much is this refrigerator used?

Suppose you have several people in your household all on different schedules and opening the refrigerator at different points of the day. It is going to require more power to keep that refrigerator going than a family of three that shares the same mealtimes every day.

Opening your refrigerator 50 times per day it will use quite a bit more power than one that is only opened 10 times a day.

Each time your refrigerator is opened it causes cold air to escape and increase the internal temperature, causing the cooling unit to kick on. If you rarely open your refrigerator it will use much less power.

Is your home air-conditioned?

Refrigerators are insulated, but keeping a refrigerator in a hot house will make the refrigerator work harder to stay cool than if it is in a nice air-conditioned home.

Moreover, this same principle applies to those of you that keep a refrigerator in your garage or workshop.

solar for Refrigerator

About solar panels

Solar panel efficiency has come a long way in the last few decades. Years ago most solar panels had an average of 200W per hour or less. Today, you can find solar panels that produce 300W or more.

This means you will need fewer solar panels to produce the same amount of power. Less to set up and less to have installed.

Don’t forget solar storage!

The solar panels can produce the power to run your refrigerator in a four hour period, but you need to store much of that to use later.

Store solar power in a battery array. Purchase one to plug and play, have one installed, or build one yourself.

This will allow your refrigerator to run at night when the sun is not up. Also, it can help build reserves for days when it may be overcast or raining.

Conclusion

In short, whether you are trying to cut your home energy bill, set up a camper for solar, or go off the grid you can power a refrigerator using solar power with relative ease.

Solar panels and appliance energy efficiencies have improved to a point where these things are now affordable and viable options.

Just check the energy guide included when you purchase your refrigerator so you know how much energy it will consume.

With that information, you can set up a battery system that can hold at least one day’s worth of power for the refrigerator. Then simply install and plug-in your solar panels.

However, if this is something you do not feel comfortable doing you can find a professional solar installer near you and you can be confident with today’s technology, that they have a solution to meet your needs.

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