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Old 10-31-2013, 02:27 AM   #1
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A household fridge running on solar panels

Its something I want to do simply because I want a reasonable amount of refrigeration and I dont want the expense or weight of a dedicated diesel genset.

Many say it cant be done, some on other forums are saying they are doing it now as liveaboards, but with 2 small fridge/freezer

A boat that I was/am looking at has a decent sized fridge freezer and makes the claim



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Refrigeration Domestic 220 volt fridge freezer
Four large solar panels individually managed run the whole ship through a Mastervolt 2500 watt inverter/charger. No need to run the genset.
Can it be done - is anyone doing it?
If so, what sort of gear have you onboard to do it?
This vessel has no shortage of roof for more panels if needed and I would rather go this way than get a 12 volt marine fridge at far greater expense or drop $5 to $15k on a diesel Genny.
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:00 AM   #2
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Yes it can be done, but....

Couple of comments. You need to know what the 24 hr draw is for the refrigeration. On Bay Pelican with two domestic type units (110v we are North American) we used approximately 400 amp hrs per day or refrigeration. An enormous load.

Also what is the size an output of the solar panels.

I have a friend with 6 panels - Kyocera 150 watt - on his trawler. Able to go day after day with just the panels for power. However he is at 15 degrees north whereas you are 27 degrees south and thus my friend has more sun on the panels. His refrigeration is not as much of a draw as was mine.

Noble goal doing without a generator, but if the boat market in Australia is anything like North American you could have your pick of boats that already have a generator and have a marine type refrigeration system and won't run into this issue when you eventually resell the boat.

Good luck, you will enjoy regardless of which way you go.

Marty
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Old 10-31-2013, 09:54 AM   #3
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Yes it can be done, but....

Couple of comments. You need to know what the 24 hr draw is for the refrigeration. On Bay Pelican with two domestic type units (110v we are North American) we used approximately 400 amp hrs per day or refrigeration. An enormous load.

Also what is the size an output of the solar panels.

I have a friend with 6 panels - Kyocera 150 watt - on his trawler. Able to go day after day with just the panels for power.
Thanks
Not sure why the picture I included didnt load(I was on mod preview) but here it is again, maybe

As you can see its a pretty decent size.
Panels on the roof dont look like much not that you can see much


Quote:
However he is at 15 degrees north whereas you are 27 degrees south and thus my friend has more sun on the panels. His refrigeration is not as much of a draw as was mine.
I plan on being mostly 17Deg - equator - 11 deg, so should get plenty of sun also and, as you can see there is plenty of spare panel space.

Quote:
but if the boat market in Australia is anything like North American you could have your pick of boats that already have a generator and have a marine type refrigeration system and won't run into this issue when you eventually resell the boat.
Unfortunately the pickings over here compared to the US are pretty slim and several times more expensive.
Good marine refrigeration+ economical diesel in a 50ft + vessel is going to be the best part of $500k upwards.
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:49 AM   #4
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Its something I want to do simply because I want a reasonable amount of refrigeration and I dont want the expense or weight of a dedicated diesel genset.
.
At the outset let me say that I have no generator or solar panels on my boat. I simply don't need them. If my electrical loads were such that I did need additional power generation, I'd have a diesel generator. Yes, it would be great to separate completely from mechanical generated power but at this point in time (technology) it's mighty expensive (not to mention cumbersome & downright ugly) to pull it off.

I looked at a Tesla the other day and marveled at the technology that the car displayed. Truly, a very beautiful car and very exciting to say the least. At this point in time, however, I'd rather have a high quality hybrid (and I do) that has no limitations on miles traveled in a day. (no need to stop for charging) If the day ever comes, in my lifetime, that there are no limits on how far an all electric vehicle can travel, I'll have one.

I think solar cells are fine for topping off batteries but to have enough of them to run a boat 24/7 that has normal size household appliances, makes no sense to me.

As was stated before, know what your daily electrical demands are and install a generator that will supply those loads.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:06 AM   #5
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I'm curious...

This Fridge/Freezer...

What are the running and surge amp draws?
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:21 PM   #6
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I ran an analysis of my largest,oldest,upright,120VAC refrigerator over a 24 hour period.
I drew 1.5 KWH.

At 12 VDC with about a 20% add for inverter being inefficient my SWAG is somewhere around 150 Amp DC to run the fridge.
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:58 PM   #7
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Why not consider a propane refrigerator/freezer.
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:01 PM   #8
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Mate,
I run a 90 lt all frig and a 90 lt all freezer plus 2 x 110 lt Eva Kool frig/freezers all run of my 240 V system even though the Eva Kools are 12 volts they run with the transformers.
See my Tidahapah refit thread re stick down solar panels, they are terrific, a little more expensive but the area is still walkable..
Insequent who has just imported his boat into Brisbane is all solar and no gen set. he is over 50' so well worth talking to him re this and he is a local.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
Why not consider a propane refrigerator/freezer.
I had one on a previous boat that worked flawlessly until I went into another country - seems the LPG is not the same and its stopped working.
No refrigeration and very few areas with ice for a month in a land of 30degree plus temps and warm beer, never again.
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
I ran an analysis of my largest,oldest,upright,120VAC refrigerator over a 24 hour period.
I drew 1.5 KWH.

At 12 VDC with about a 20% add for inverter being inefficient my SWAG is somewhere around 150 Amp DC to run the fridge.
Thanks
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Old 10-31-2013, 05:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Tidahapah View Post
Mate,
I run a 90 lt all frig and a 90 lt all freezer plus 2 x 110 lt Eva Kool frig/freezers all run of my 240 V system even though the Eva Kools are 12 volts they run with the transformers.
See my Tidahapah refit thread re stick down solar panels, they are terrific, a little more expensive but the area is still walkable..
Insequent who has just imported his boat into Brisbane is all solar and no gen set. he is over 50' so well worth talking to him re this and he is a local.
Cheers
Benn
And a big thanks, real life examples and thieving of part numbers is exactly what I am after - no guesswork involved.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:15 AM   #12
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IF you can fit a propane unit , that is the BEST,

however the tossing of the house fridge and installation of a modern DC fridge should cut your DC loads at least in half.

Even better if you can increase the thickness of the insulation by glueing on 1 or 2 inches on the sides.

A modern fridge is cheap compared to a diesel noisemaker.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:37 AM   #13
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My boat's previous owner set the boat up for 4 months of independent anchoring in the Bahamas each year. That included a combo of solar and wind power, but in particular, a propane fridge. I'm adding more solar now and was just about to trade-off my propane fridge for a 12 volt unit. Now, I'm not so sure.

Ultimately, I love the idea of being at anchor and my solar taking care of my fridge/freezer, lights, battery charging and occasional pump cycles. My fridge is a 110V -Propane operation unit, and I wonder how much juice I loose by transforming the 12 volt through the invertor. If I had my druthers, I'd want a 12V - Propane unit. Money, Money, Money.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:06 AM   #14
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Mate,
Be very careful of a propane fridge in Aus as it will be extremely hard to get a gas certificate which ultimately effects your resale and immediately your insurance.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:21 AM   #15
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Oh yeah, Tidahapah has a good point. I should have added that here in the Americas (including the islands), Propane is readily available, even at places that don't have something else. It's a convenient energy here.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:50 AM   #16
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The inverter efficientcy varies by the load on it. My Prosine 1800W is rated at 90% at 2/3 of its rated output. You can look your model up online generally.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:01 PM   #17
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however the tossing of the house fridge and installation of a modern DC fridge should cut your DC loads at least in half.
In Australia, a modern DC fridge will cost several thousands of dollars and still look like it was made in the 1960's


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A modern fridge is cheap compared to a diesel noisemaker.
A modern AC fridge is far cheaper than a modern 1960's look DC fridge and solar makes no noise
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:45 AM   #18
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A modern AC fridge is far cheaper than a modern 1960's look DC fridge and solar makes no noise
But you have to feed it ac. Most carfridge type units, typically with Danfoss compressors, run on both ac and dc. Moorebank Refrigeration in Sydney make a range of marine fridges resembling domestic ones. They made the 12v under settee fridge in my boat, it`s still going after 32 years.
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Old 11-02-2013, 06:02 AM   #19
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On my 53 ft Pilothouse, i just installed another 200 watts of flexible solar panels to increase the 380 watts to atotal of 580 watts.

I run all LED lights, 12 volt stainless steel vitrifrigio 210 l fridge plus another 80 lt evacool downstairs in the genset room.

My total amp usage each day is around 250 depending on how many cups of tea my wife has. I have a 2500 watt inverter. My house bank is 800 amp hours.

My panels gave me 160 amps this week from day light to sun down. I was testing the new panels to see how they went. The run through a new 50 amp digital regulator. I upgraded all my wiring to accept the new amps also.

At best i think i should get close to my max amp draw for the whole boat for a day on a nice sunny day in Summer here on the Sunshine Coast.

I also have a genset which powers the cooking gear when we are not using the BBQ. I usually run the genset an hour a day when anchored to boost any charging, keep the 240 volt hotwater system hot and run the dishwasher.

All up, i figure this is very economical living No one can live for free.

Bo
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Old 11-02-2013, 07:09 AM   #20
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The RV propane fridges do not work at all well on DC.

Propane works because the huge power draw that would kill a battery bank to keep the reefer cold is a snap for the propane to create. Even tho absorbtion systems are less efficient that DC variable speed compressors the propane has the energy to operate most large reefers for a month on a single 20# bottle.

The DC heater is about 30A , as many RV only have car alts , and is used as a keep cool for short periods of time.

The propane must be secured in a filling station and the DC is keep cold for that time.

In a campsite 120V is used as reefer power , which is almost as powerful (and free from a power pole), using an inverter to create 120V would be more inefficient than using a Danfoss 12V real DC fridge.

The reefer is by far the largest power hog that will be operating 24/7 for the duration of the cruise.

Solve the reefer problem and the rest is EASY!!!
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