> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Refrigeration after TEOTWAWKI



Refrigeration after TEOTWAWKI

EdgeStar 43 qt portable compact fridge/freezer
Refrigeration is one of those modern conveniences that we take for granted. The ability to cool/freeze food is one of the backbones of our lives today. You can keep perishable foods fresh for longer--foods in the freezer will last for months without issue. However, your fridge/freezer typically need grid power to function. And while you may be able to start of the ol' generator and keep them going during the initial stages of a disaster, fuel supplies will run out quickly. Having a way to cool or freeze would be a massive asset after TEOTWAWKI, and if you depend on refrigerated medicine, it could be a matter of life and death.

Perhaps the best long-term solution that I've come across are compact portable fridge/freezer units typically marketed towards off roaders and expedition travelers. These units are designed to run with very minimal power draw; a good-sized vehicle battery will power one for a couple days before running low on juice. Throw a solar panel into the mix in order to top off the battery and you've got a sustainable refrigeration solution.

ARB, Engel and Edgestar fridges all seem to be well regarded in the offroading communities--the ARB and Engels have better aftermarket support, but they're also about twice as much as the Edgestars. These fridge/freezers aren't cheap like a little dorm room fridge--the ARBs and Engels can get close to $1k--but then again, a dorm fridge doesn't do the same thing. They are high quality, durable and hard-use items though, so they should last for quite a long time.

You'll need a battery, solar panel, charge controller and some cables. From my research, most of these fridges draw around 1 to 2 amps, which translates to 24 to 48 amp hours per day. You'll want a good sized battery - the offroaders seem to prefer the Diehard Series 31 Platinum, which has a 100 amp/hour capacity. Depending on the draw of your fridge, you could get 2 to 4 days worth of power out of that battery.

To operate full-time, you'll need a solar panel that puts off enough juice to at least make up for the fridge's draw. Working with 6 hours of sunlight and 70% efficiency, an 80 watt panel will give you about 28 amp hours, a 120 watt panel will give you about 42 amp hours, and a 200 watt panel will give you back a healthy 70 amp hours. Personally, I'd want to have a panel with more than enough power to keep up with the fridge--real life conditions (cloudy weather) can put a damper on solar power generation, fast. As a nice plus, if your panel is strong enough, you'll also be able to run/recharge some other basic electronics on it. Fixed panels are the most affordable, but there are also foldable options like this camo 60 watt panel.

Like the offroaders do, this set up can be built into a vehicle or small trailer. You could also easily set this up in the most barebones off-grid retreat, cabin, shed or wherever.

Yep, it's not cheap, but having portable, long-term sustainable refrigeration/freezing is a huge asset for any survivor. Definitely on my "someday" list.