Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mini Fridge \ Solar \ Rain

Above pictures of my new Mini Fridge. Well it isn't new, but it works. The old Coleman electric fridge potted out when the fan motor died. No chance of getting another one and it actually died so lubing the bearings with WD40 was out. On this one I'm using a small blower out of an old computer on the hot side (Which would be called the condenser in a normal refrigeration unit.) This thing actually uses a refrigeration chip and electricity is the refrigerant.

Since it hadn't worked very good when it was working I hoped that putting the refrigeration unit in the small ice chest might make a freezer out of it because there would be far less volume to cool. Well that didn't happen, but it does cool sufficiently to chill drinks and keep a small amount of perishables in and it runs off of the solar so I don't have to buy propane for it. Problem is the small size, but then it is small enough that it takes up very little room in here. That won't replace the freezer in the propane fridge which will at least make a small amount of ice and I can chill drinks in it before moving them in to the small fridge in here to cool them even more. Later in the season when the weather cools I'll be able to use the propane fridge, but for now it isn't a lot of good. Perhaps one of these days I'll find a cheap home styled fridge or chest freezer to run off of the solar. Believe it or not one of them probably wouldn't use any more solar than this mini fridge because this one pulls 40 watts 24/7 and a full sized fridge would pull much more, but only intermittently. Perhaps 20 minutes on and an hour off.

And for the Solar Part...
Some of you may know this while others may not so that's why I'm talking about it. Those who have solar need to be aware of the fact that you need to keep them clean and especially remove anything that can cast a shadow on any part of them. In the second panel photo just the shadow of my hand in the red square is enough to cause the WHOLE panel to drop to 50% output. That's right. Just that one little shaded area drops the efficiency of the whole panel by 50 percent. Dust and durt can be a real killer on solar panels and I've seen them on roofs where they had dirt all over them and the people couldn't figure out why they weren't working as good as they should be. That's one benefit of keeping them close to the ground where a paint brush can be used to keep them dusted. Its also a lot easier to clean them with Windex and a rag to get the bird poop off of them because dusting doesn't work for that.

And for the Rain...

Got woken up at 2:20 this morning to the loud sound of heavy rain pounding the roof and high wind. It only rained about 5 minutes, but it was raining so hard that it totaled up to just over 1/10 inch. The wind finally settled down around 8:00.

And for Blogger...
Just been viewing my blog and it looks like Blogger has screwed up big time one more time! The way viewing the pictures works now really SUCKS!


  1. Very ingenious Tffnguy. Thank you for explaining about the shade factor.

    Glad you got some rain :)

  2. BTW have you read Nick's blog lately? Seems some wild women are copying your picture (angel face with hallo on top)

  3. MsB, I don't even have the link to Nick's blog anymore. I can't keep up with it as much as he changes blogs. Maybe you can send me the link in case I need to put a hit out on the wild women.

    Boy its Windy and COOL here now. (Cloudy to)


  5. David,

    Thanks for the info on the solar panels. I have so much to learn. I will make sure my panels are close to the ground, and for once, I have a reason to "dust the furniture"...

    P.S. Watch out for wild women...

    God Bless,

  6. The current surge as the motor of the fridge kicks in with the intermittent version might be more difficult for the solar/inverter to handle. Or not. Just be aware of it in case it looks like it pulls way more watts than it says.

  7. MsB, GridNUTaMas would be a much better handle for him. I guess I'm going to have to sneak over there and catch a picture of him sitting on his outdoor toilet. And I do mean OUT DOOR!

    Terry, Dirty panels on cloudy days are not a good thing. Probably won't make much difference though. You'll probably only get 50% of power on cloudy days anyway. Wouldn't it be nice of solar panels were 100% efficient? A one square yard panel would put out 1000 watts (1 KW.)

  8. Shadowmoss, my neighbor runs a full sized fridge and a medium sized chest freezer off of his 800 watt system. (both 110 volt) I have more solar than he does now, but I'll have to upgrade to a larger inverter.

  9. Lots of good solid information here. Thanks, David, for all you do and share with us.

    Really glad you got some rain, even if it's just a little. It's been threatening rain here for a couple days, but, so far nothing at my house. Fingers Crossed...

  10. David - If you're talking of JW with the fridge and freezer on 800 watts - it's not only the amount of watts it's also to do with the battery storage. We have a freezer running off 255 watts solar panels and 1000 watt inverter - but we have 3 X 130Ah storage. Could do with more batteries, so we switch off the freezer between 9pm and 7am (well we have just had winter LOL) It works for 5 minutes every 16 - 20.

    Yeah, can't see your mini fridge being a freezer - we also have one of those electric powered cooler / fridges - it chows power for very little chilling :( But I'm thrilled that you have some REAL cheese in it - and is that butter?

    So glad you had some rain - always good for clearing the head. Get some water storage in, and grow a few greens...?

  11. Dani, I have 400 HA of batteries and if or when I get a fridge I'll just have to try it and see how the batteries hold up over night. If they don't then I'll put an appliance timer on it and do like you'll do. I also have another 400 AH of the old batteries which aren't 100 percent that I could switch to if needed. They have a tendency to drop voltage faster at night. One thing to remember is that the temperatures are cooler at night and the fridge or freezer won't pull near as many watts as they would in the heat of the day.

    No the neighbor I'm talking about lives down the hill from me. Not sure of his amp hours, but Id figure about 800. His chest freezer runs 24/7 and he does cycle off his fridge at night.

  12. BTW got another 3/10ths of slow rain last night so with the already 1/10th its getting real close to 1/2 inch. Its cloudy and cool again for now so there may be more.

  13. tattle tail and u will never catch me outdoors on the throne

  14. Nick, next time you're sitting on that throne look real close west between the bushes at the critter cam I put out there. You've been on the Internet doing your dirty business several times now. Never mind its too well camouflaged for you to see or find it.

  15. David - A tip we were given - when connecting batteries to a charge controller / inverter / appliance, the batteries should ALL be at exactly (or as close as dammit) charge. If one is less then that weakens the entire group.

    400 Ah should be more than enough. Mebbe keep the weaker bunch of batteries for things like running LED's etc. and have stronger 400Ah's dedicated to only the freezer / fridge (whichever you end up with) :)

  16. Dani, I have the battery bank setup as a charge through. In other words they are setup as one large battery and the charge charges through the whole bank as if it were one battery. That keeps all batteries charged at the same rate. Power is taken off of them the same way and discharges all batteries at the same rate.

    The older batteries just bleed off since a couple pull the other two down at night. Right now I have the two better of that four connected to this trailer since the battery in it took a dump. Don't know what I'll do later.

    When the time comes I'll experiment for a few days or maybe even a week to see which works the best and go that way.

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