Choosing the right Fridge/Freezer

When it comes to choosing the fridge/freezer that will suit you best, it is often about more than just the beer and wine. Today there is a huge range of fridge/freezers available for living off the grid, some people even find it quite overwhelming trying to find the fridge/freezer that will suit their needs best.

There are two main types of fridges for off-grid use:

  • Compressor fridges, these fridges use a compressor and run on either 12/24V battery power and some models have a 240V option for mains power.
  • Absorption fridges (also known as 3-way Gas fridges), are arguably the most common type of off-grid fridge. The benefits of a 3-way fridge is that it has multiple power sources (12V, 240V, Gas). This type of fridge does not have a compressor but instead uses evaporating ammonia as a cooling method.

There are a number of things to look for when purchasing your fridge/freezer. Start by answering the following questions:

How much space do I need?

In terms of capacity, off-grid fridges can range in size from 30L right up to 280L. If you intend to live permanently in your dwelling or visit/go-way for weeks at a time you will want to look at a larger capacity fridge, starting at 150L. These tend to be two door models with separate fridge and freezer. However, if you only visit or go away for weekends, then a smaller size fridge will be suitable for you and provide plenty of space for a couple of days’ worth of food.

Remember, bigger does not always mean better. You want to choose the smallest fridge possible for your requirements, as this will save on power consumption and ongoing costs. You will also need to consider what the dimensions and shape of the fridge are and what will best work with your space, sometimes a drawer fridge may be the best option.

What power source?

A 3-way Gas Fridge provides the option of three different power sources; 12V, 240V and LPG Gas. Whereas a compressor fridge will only provide you with 12/24V power and on some models 240V option as well, but a compressor fridge will be more efficient when running on power. A compressor fridge will also handle hotter environments better as it will adjust how hard it is working to keep a constant temperature inside.

The most obvious benefit of a 3-way fridge is that they can use LPG Gas, so you have the ability to remove your fridge from your electrical system and save power altogether. Depending on the size of your fridge a standard 9Kg gas bottle can last up to 4 weeks on some of the smaller models. For added convenience, some 3-way fridges have AES (Automatic Energy Selection) and will automatically select between power sources depending on what is available.

What are the safety features?

A 3-way Gas fridge comes with the added risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and invisible gas that is produced when LPG is burnt. The good news is that all gas fridges are fitted with a flame failure safety device to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also to remember is that all gas appliances must be installed by a registered gas fitter. Any improperly or illegally installed gas appliances will void the manufacturer’s warranty and could pose a serious safety risk. Compressor fridges can be installed as per the manual and do not need a professional to do the job.

How much noise is generated?

3-way Gas fridges do not have any moving parts like a compressor fridge, so therefore will run silently. Compressor fridges will make a noise when the compressor is running, but this is not constant and generally at a low noise level.