Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things That go BEEP in the Night - A Refrigerator on Solar Power

Having an upright refrigerator with freezer compartment sure has been a nice addition to the cabin.

While the previously created downright fridge (as compared to an upright fridge ;)) that I created by converting our chest freezer to a refrigerator worked very well for us for almost two years, we had to admit that it was getting tiresome always having to reach DOWN into it to retrieve items.  Especially when they began to be piled two or three deep.

We researched at great length before finally settling on a special order Danby from Walmart.



Upon closer examination, I noted that this Danby  model appears identical to the Home Depot Magic Chef design that was cheaper and more readily available.  Oh well.

The big downside to this new fridge is the amount of startup current it wants to draw.  When the batteries are completely full it is just testing the limits of my inverter.  After the sun goes down though, it doesn't take long before the startup of the fridge causes the inverter to alarm with a low voltage (or perhaps overcurrent - it happens so quickly that I still haven't seen the exact code).

This is surprising, considering we have what I assume to be a large enough battery bank.

My first solution was to plug the fridge in via a long extension cord.  This reduces the current available to it.  It only helped delay the alarm somewhat, and isn't considered safe by all but the most daring of adventurers.

Now I'm going to have to get more creative.  Unfortunately I can no longer find a manufacturer of a soft-start outlet.   I will likely next try to increase the size of my battery cables to the inverter.  Hopefully this will make more current available when required.  I just worry about the amount of current that may have to travel through the bottleneck of my 100A fuse or my 100A meter shunt.

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