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Home Forums General Discussion When do we really need electricity?

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    Most people will think this is a stupid question at first glance.

    However, when you really think about it how much of our daily life truly needs electrical power and how much could be done without electrical power.

    Apart from our computers for internet access, what else uses power? Refrigerators? Yes, but do we need a 12 -18 cu ft with ice maker etc.

    I did a survey onece in a supermarket. Almost every food item had a note ‘refrigerate after opening’ This included pickled products and a few foods I knew did not spoil at room temperature.

    I then reviewed all the foods we normally have on hand. At least half of what we store in the fridge did not really need refrigeration. So why do we it. Because the safety nannies have brainwashed us into that mind set.

    Sure a cold beer is nice but setting a few bottles in a cold creek is just as cool. The cheese we like comes wrapped in a protective wax (now plastic) coating and will be eatern long before it would spoil sitting on a shelf. Ditto for the farm fresh unwashed eggs we eat. These eggs will keep two weeks or longer without refrigeration. And are heated up pastroom temperature before being eatern. They are usually eaten in a week or less.

    We bake our own bread and its rare a loaf last three days. A jar of pickles last two weeks only because we ration them due to cost of buying a jar every two days. Potatoes, onions and rice are kept in the pantry or root cellar.

    Canned staples and soups, spices also stay in the pantry. What remains would fit in one or two zeer pots. When we move to the new place chickeens will remain on the hoof until its time to cook them. Canned and smoked salmon alo do not need refrigertion. Do I really need to spend $3,000 for solar panels battery bank and inverter to make ice cubes and keep ice cream? Hmmmm?


    I have found that we require very little in the way of refrigeration. We have a small dorm sized (cube) fridge, honestly we run it so seldom that we might as well not have it, mostly we run it when family is out to visit and we have a lot more fresh and perishable foods that need colder temps, that always happens in the summer. We also have access to a neighbor’s fridge when we have things like milk and cheeses that need refrigeration.

    Hubby and I are working in 2 different directions to have a fridge without having to use up so much power, I purchased an external thermostat, I will hook that up to a small chest freezer, I set the temp for refrigerator temps and the thermostat cuts the power to the freezer when it reaches the set temp.

    Hubby is pulling an old fridge out of a travel trailer, it runs on AC or propane, we plan on using it with propane.

    We will see which one works better and use that one, it’s also nice to have the option to choose which ever one works with what we have the most of at the time, either batteries or propane.

    We have learned that many of the foods that are traditionally refrigerated do not need to refrigerated, especially if you take a little care with them, as Elnav said, fresh eggs, hard cheeses, pickles, relish do not REQUIRE refrigeration, we use single serve packets of mustard, mayo and ketchup. I fond that most of the time, when I had a refrigerator, I used it to store leftovers until I decided to toss them out. Since we have gone fridgless for the most part, I am much more careful about the amounts of food I prepare so that we don’t have leftovers, when I go shopping, I do not buy foods that require refrigeration unless it’s something I am going to fix and eat that day.

    I have 2 upright freezers and a refrigerator in our front yard, we use them for dry storage.



    I didn’t have enough money or panels for a SunFrost in 1998, so went with a Servel propane. It had a small dent and was marked down. Some cleaning and maintenance, 1.1 lbs. of propane per day(vented to attic), 8 cu. ft. with 1.1 being the freezer.

    The electric is off except when in use. Our well pump is 220VAC and is set for 30-50psi with a 10 gallon pressure tank. DR2424s set for 4 watts to come on.

    We refrigerate what needs it. Winter gives us extra freezers outside (coolers).

    Earthship, year around fresh vegetables.


    To paraphrase the real estate guys. INSULATION INSULATION INSULATION!

    Mass produced appliances are built to a price and to some extent to fit a standard shell dimension. Nobody like to discover the new replacement fridge is one inch bigger all around and will not fit the space the old fridge fit in.

    To some extent off-grid people have les conventionl housing and fitting in something non standard is easier. Mybe not as pretty but it works. If you are placing a chest freezer outside on a porch, its is easy to glue 2″ of insulation board all around. Just remember to leave a hole for the compressor and radiator to breathe. If it is outside make sure it has shade and if the exterior paint get rusty or dirty clean itand paint it shiny white to reflect sunlight to the maximum.

    If you are running it on an extension cord be sure the wire gauge is big to minimize voltage drop.Use #14 Ga not the common #16 ga. Non sine wave inverters tend to cause compressor motors to pull more current as does voltage drop. Make sure the compressor get plenty of cooling air and as much voltage as possible to reduce internal heating and shortened service life.


    RV dual voltage and propane fridges have a few peculiarities not always known by users.

    Although several manufacturers make them almost all work the same way. Propane will get them cold quickly as wiil 120V operation. However the DC function is only for holding the chill. Because these work by heating the active fluid to boil it into vapor heat is applied to a vertticaal pipe inside a chimney. Propane has a little 5000 BTU burner that heats up the insulated chimney caausing the liquid to boil. In 120V mode an electric heating coil is wrapped around the same pipe but it seldom becomes as hot as the propane flame.

    The 12V heater coil is much smaller in BTU because of the impracticality of wiring with cables as big as your finger. so the 12V is only hot enough to maintain the cold, not enough to pull down the interior from room temp.

    I once worked for a charter fleet operator and we were constantly getting complaints of the DC fridge not working. Afte a coupleof hours checking with theremometes test metes et I always found it was operator error not equipment failure. There should be a digital signal to indicate it wa an ID 10 T error not a malfunction.

    Off-gridders with 12V battery bank available may be tempted to rrely on the 12V power but you will be disappointed nd maybe conclude the fridge has a problem.

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