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Converting A Freezer Into Solar Powered Refrigerator

We just converted a chest freezer into a fridge for off grid solar power use in order to save on energy. This was a standard top open chest freezer which we recently bought at a garage sale.


The conversion itself is quite simple and easy to do. All you need is a digital thermostat with a built in power outlet. The thermostat can be set to the temperature range you desire and then the device turns on and off the outlet as needed. This reduces the amount of time that the freezer compressor is running, which basically reduces the power comsumption and also the inside temperature.


You can get the digital freezer/fridge converstion here: Willhi digital thermostat control



I searched for about a week before I found the perfect device for our needs at the right price. Most of the thermostats that are sold for this purpose cost about $60 or more. I found this one for under $30 but it took a lot of research.


This digital thermostat control lets you set the low temperature cut off and the high temperature turn on points. It also has a high temperature alarm in case the fridge fails on you to alert you before your food spoils. This is a very cool extra feature which is good to have. The bright LED display is great to see at all times as well. I love this thing.



Now, a freezer makes a better refrigerator because a freezer is better insulated than a fridge. The walls are thicker and this makes a freezer more efficient when run as a fridge in the first place.


A chest freezer which is top open is better than a front door fridge as well because cold air is heavier than warm air. When you open up your front door fridge, you can feel all the cold air falling onto the floor at your feet. When you close the door, the fridge has to run in order to cool the entire inside of the device again to replace all that lost cold air. With a chest freezer or fridge, the cold air stays inside saving you energy.


That is why commercial solar powered refrigerators are almost always top load devices. But a commercial solar powered fridge is very expensive, running more than a thousand dollars or more.


This little freezer cost us $30 used at a garage sale and the thermostat cost under $30 for a total of just under $60 for our solar powered fridge.





We first removed the old behemoth fridge/freezer combo from out tiny house, making space for the new chest freezer. This also freed up a nice window which we were never before able to access. This lights up our living room so much more. Extra bonus.


After cleaning up the area we moved the new freezer into its home next to the kitchen sink. Then I unpacked the Willhi digital thermostat controller and plugged it into a power outlet. I then set the low cut off at 33 degrees F and the high turn on point at 37 degrees F. I set the alarm at 40 degrees F.


I put the temperature sensor into the fridge, keeping it from touching the side walls. You dont want to touch the walls or your temperature will be off because the side walls are colder while the compressor is running.


Next I plugged the freezer into the thermostat outlet and suddenly we have an energy saving solar powered refrigerator. The newly converted fridge turned on immediately and started to cool the interior. The bright LED display on the thermostat showed the temperature as the fridge did its work. Its pretty cool to watch the display and see how well the fridge is working at any time.


The display also shows the word "working" when the device is turned on and the fridge compressor is running. This is also quite helpful to see what is going on at any given time.


We loaded our new solar powered refrigerator and were surprised that it took all the food we had in the old upright fridge. It is a bit more work though to access all our food but the energy savings is worth every bit of the effort.


We are going to be making updates as we run this through the coming week so stay tuned for more details. We will be showing how much energy is used each day using a kill-a-watt meter.


You can watch today's video here: Watch the video now  Converting Freezer To Fridge For Off Grid Solar Power Operation


While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.


Feel free to ask any questions or get help with your project on our Discussion and support forum

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Troy Reid


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