Planning to Run yor Mini Fridge Off Solar? Read This first

Small compact mini fridges came in handy when you only have limited space. For example, if you plan to travel in your van or RV, and have a small space and a small quantity of food to safely preserve then a mini fridge can be the perfect solution.

Given the mini fridge’s comparatively lower energy consumption when compared to the larger domestic fridges, can you use a solar system to power it? How many watts of solar would you need to run it?

This post provides guidance on if you can and should use solar to power a mini fridge, the pros and cons you need to be aware of, and the alternatives or complementary power solutions you should consider for your fridge to run reliably.

Can You Power a Mini Fridge Using Solar?

Yes, you can run your compact mini fridge off an off-grid solar system reliably for several months and years on end.

Make sure the solar panel wattage is large enough to meet the energy needs of the mini fridge and the battery bank capacity stores enough power to keep it running even when it is overcast.

The size of solar system mainly depends on the power consumption (watts) of the fridge, and how many hours of sunshine on average your location receives.

How Much Power a Mini Fridge Uses?

This depends on the capacity and design of the fridge used. For example, a good quality 3.1 cubic feet mini fridge consumes an estimated 0.8 – 1 kWh per day.

Actual consumption depends on the mini fridge design (some minis are more efficient than others), whether it is summer or winter weather (energy consumption will be higher during summer), and the durations for which the fridge door is opened.

You can keep the fridge’s energy consumption low by minimizing the duration for which the fridge door is opened.

An Example of an Offgrid Solar System for a Mini Fridge

As a rough guide, a 400-watt solar system connected to a 200 Ah AGM battery can reliably power an off solar your 3.1 cu. ft mini fridge with energy to spare for other low power consumption appliances.

Assuming your location receives 4 hours of sunshine then such a system generates an average of 1,600 Wh/day and stores about 1,200 watt hours ( from 50% capacity of a 200Ah AGM battery x 12V, the battery voltage) which is more than the estimated daily consumption of 3.1 cu. ft. mini fridge.

How Many Solar Panels to use for a Mini Fridge?

This depends on the power consumption of the mini fridge and the wattage of the solar panel used to build the solar array.

For example, in the case of 400 watts of solar, there are several options available to you:

  • 1 x 400 watt solar panel
  • 2 x 200 watt solar panels
  • 4 x 100 watt solar panels to mention but a few.

Other Solar System Components you Can Use

  • a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter
  • 30- 40 amp charge controller

Can You Use a Smaller Capacity Solar System?

Yes, you can. This is one such system but beware of the associated implication that you may need to complement the solar power with either a generator or charging from the alternator or grid depending on the shortfall of energy required to keep the fridge running.

Is it Worth it using Solar for a Mini Fridge?

I’d say if the grid is not available, for example in the case of a remote cabin then definitely consider using solar.

If however, budget is an issue, then you should consider using an inverter generator solution instead.

At current market prices, a 400 watt off-grid solar system complete with a charge controller, 200Ah battery, and 1,000 watt inverter can cost as much as USD 1,200 against an estimated USD 500 for a 1,000 watt inverter generator. Note: Prices can vary from one manufacturer to another.

A 1 kW generator is considerably cheaper to purchase and set up compared to a 400 watt off-grid battery.

Can a 100 watt Solar Panel Run a Mini Fridge?

A single 100 watt solar system, is only capable of generating 400-500 watt-hours of energy assuming 4 -5 hours of sunshine which is not enough to power a fridge continuously with an estimated power consumption of 1 kWh per day.

You’ll need need to increase your solar panel capacity to keep the fridge running during the night and in case of continuous overcast days. Alternatively, you can complement solar power with a generator or alternator.

Alternatives to using Solar?

While you can power the mini fridge completely using an off-grid solar system, you may also:

#1. Complement the charge from the solar panels with charging from the alternator when driving. If you plan to do this, I’d recommend a battery isolator to prioritize charging the starter battery first and preventing it from being discharged by connected appliances.

#2. Use a battery charger connected to a small 1 kW generator to charge the off-grid solar system battery. This helps ensure that the battery is sufficiently charged to keep the fridge running even when it is overcast or during cloudy weather.

Closing Thoughts

You can power a mini fridge continuously off an off-grid solar system. An example of a solar system you can use fr a 3.1 cu. ft mini fridge includes 400 watts of solar, 200 Ah AGM battery, 30-40 amp charge controller, and a 1,000-watt inverter.

Note. This is only a guide and there are other possible solar system setups you can use.

In addition to using solar power, you can power your mini fridge off an inverter generator.

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