A 12 volt refrigerator used to be something exclusive to boat owners, RVers, 18 wheel truck drivers, campers or for those who spent time in cabins without power. But not any longer!
If you are looking to save energy in your home, your fridge can be charged by solar and wind power. A self powered at-home fridge is finally possible.
Though why would you do this? They are quite useful in areas with severe weather and extended power outages. Hurricanes and tornadoes are the usual culprits, but just loosing power can cause complete food spoilage.
If plan on getting "off the grid" or even going on a road or boat trip, a 12 volt fridge is definitely the way to go.
The right 12 volt model for you really depends on where you'll need it to be. On a boat, in a car or RV, in a cabin, or at home:
These units are powered by plugging them into a cigarette lighter/cell phone charger and they feed off the car's battery. One thing that is super cool if you have two separate seats upfront many of them fit perfectly in between. Take a look at the picture -- this one even comes with a CD case!
They come in a variety of sizes -- some hold as little as a 6-pack of soda, and other larger models can store enough food for 3-4 people for a few days. The larger versions for RVs are actually built in refrigerators and fall more into the next category.
The model shown above is more of a medium sized version.
If you're looking for something more than a glorified beer cooler you will be happy to know that they do exist.
The larger size fridges come in both top loading versions as well as upright refrigerators and freezers like the one to the right. (This one is made by Sun Frost and is also Energy Star Qualified.)
Some models require a bit more stabilization than others –such as RV refrigerators. The larger the fridge is, you will need to be sure to find a way to lock it in place and keep it stable if it's used in something mobile (e.g., RV, boat, etc.).
The marine refrigerator brands to check out are Indel Isotherm refrigerators and portable refrigerators by Waeco.
There are a number of types and brands that available, so let's break it down a bit:)
If you are looking for a more energy efficient 12 volt refrigerator then look for one with thicker internal walls and increased insulation. If using a solar charger then pick one with a very good cooling system.
Most 12 volt refrigerators are powered by either external (car battery) or internal batteries. In order to maximize the life of the battery, it is recommended by a number of manufacturers to recharge these units before they deplete to less than half full.
As we mentioned above, be sure to recharge the fridge's battery before it becomes less than 50% full.
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