When you decide to make an RV your home, one of the challenges you will have to deal with is the power source.
A refrigerator is an essential electrical appliance you will need in your home. You can consider using solar power to run it. A solar fridge is a good choice to keep your beverages chilled and perishables fresh even when you are in the middle of nowhere camping.
You may have doubts about the viability of this idea. Can a solar panel run a camping fridge?
The simple answer is yes, you can. There are multiple ways to use solar energy for your fridge. The most common one is using a fixed or foldable solar panel. All you need to do is get a solar panel to match the power requirement of your fridge.
This article is all about figuring out various ways to use solar energy for running your camping fridge. Besides a foldable solar panel, you will also find that you can also use built-in solar panels or a portable solar power station for this purpose. Still another simple choice is a solar fridge.
In this article, you will also find which type of solar panels are the best to power a camping fridge and how to choose the right solar panels for your camping fridge.
How can a solar panel run a camping fridge?
Some of the most common ways to use solar energy for your fridge are:
- Foldable solar panel
- Built-in or fixed solar panels
- Portable power station
- Solar fridge
Let’s understand them in detail one by one.
1. Foldable solar panel
This is a simple method to power your camping fridge using solar energy. With this, you can convert a camping fridge that works on DC power to a solar fridge. The advantage of choosing a foldable solar panel is that it is compact, lightweight, and easy to transport. All you need to do is set it up facing the sun and plug the camping fridge into its charge controller.
DOKIO Folding Solar Charger is a perfect example of a foldable solar panel. At 1.1-inch thickness and only 11.7lb weight, this is lightweight and compact. The solar panels can be folded into a case with a handle for easy transportation. The solar kit includes a charge controller, conversion adaptors, and cables. This foldable solar panel has monocrystalline solar panels for the highest efficiency.
2. Built-in or fixed solar panels
A foldable solar panel is ideal for occasional use. If you want to use solar energy to power your camping fridge daily, it is better to go in for a more durable choice that will also offer you more solar energy for your other needs. You can get solar panels mounted on the roof to give you continuous solar energy to run your camping fridge. Fixed solar panels are more expensive than foldable ones, but they will pay for themselves in a few years.
ECO-WORTHY Solar Panel Kit is a good choice for built-in solar panels to fix on your roof. This has two 100W solar panels, offering a total power output of 200W. The solar kit also includes mounting brackets for easy installation on the roof. You can use the charge controller and cables to hook up your camping fridge to the solar panels.
3. Portable power station
If you are looking for solar energy options for all your electrical appliances, getting a portable power station or generator is ideal. Depending on your need, you can go for bigger or smaller ones but most of them are good enough to meet your electricity needs for a camping fridge, phone charging, and other emergency uses.
While some of them come with solar panels or offer solar panels as add-ons, for others, you may have to buy compatible solar panels to go along with the generator.
EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station is a choice worth considering. It offers six 1800W AC outlets at 1260 Wh capacity. It has a fast charging feature; charging from 0% to 80% in an hour. With an output of 3300W, it can supply power to your TV, microwave, and a host of other electrical home appliances besides the camping fridge. It allows you to connect up to 13 appliances at the same time. This power station offers 3 types of charging cables and a 2-year warranty.
A smaller and cheaper option is ROCKPALS Portable Generator. This 250W portable generator has two 110V AC outputs, four 12V DC (60W) outputs, and 2 USB ports. This can be used for powering camping fridges up to 60W for 4 hours. This portable generator is good only for short camping trips and emergencies.
4. Solar fridge
If you are only looking to use solar power to keep your food and beverages chilled, a solar panel fridge is a good choice. GOSUN Chill Cooler is a good example of a solar panel fridge. This can be powered using a foldable solar panel, a solar table, a power bank, or a car battery. The wheels provided make it easier for transportation.
As it doesn’t require ice to keep your contents cool, you can use the entire 40 liters of space for storing your food packets and bottles. A useful feature is the USB port provided in it for phone charging.
Another choice in this category is ACOPOWER LiONCooler. This also comes with wheels for easy transportation. As an extra feature, you can control this cooler with an app.
Monocrystalline or polycrystalline: Which is better?
These two are the most commonly used solar panel types for powering electrical appliances. Of the two, monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive but high in efficiency and longevity. From a sustainability point of view, sourcing monocrystalline silicon is less sustainable.
In comparison, polycrystalline is less expensive but much lower in efficiency. This means to produce the same amount of electricity, you need to have more solar panels. That translates to more space to set up the solar panels. However, as they can be folded and are flexible, polycrystalline panels are handier for camping needs.
If you want more solar power and the availability of space is limited, monocrystalline solar panels are the best choice though they are expensive. If budget is a serious constraint for you, polycrystalline panels can do the same work.
Choosing the right solar panel
The most important point to consider while choosing solar panels for your camping fridge is to check its power requirement. You will need solar panels that can generate the same or more maximum power than what your fridge needs to run.
While choosing the right type of solar panel for your camping fridge, you need to consider its usage. Whether you need to use it round-the-clock or occasionally for a few hours can make a difference in your selection.
As you cannot connect the solar panels directly to the camping fridge, a charge controller is needed. Often, this comes in the solar panel kit along with the required cables. If you want to connect appliances that run on an AC supply, you may need an inverter to convert DC to AC. you may get this as well if you opt for the solar panel kits.
Getting yourself a solar-powered fridge for camping is a good idea as sunlight will be available in plenty when you are outdoors. You can either choose a solar panel system exclusively for the camping fridge’s power requirement or opt for a bigger one so that you will be left with enough solar power for your other electrical needs.
In fact, there are big portable solar power stations or generators with enough capacity to power all your electrical appliances. Just because you’re going off the grid doesn’t mean you should compromise on luxuries like a fridge, TV, and microwave. You can go camping in the middle of nowhere and still enjoy all the conveniences of modern living.
In our latest blog post, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best solar-powered fridges for camping. Each product has its own unique features and benefits, and we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each one.
Don’t miss out on the chance to keep your food fresh and safe while enjoying the great outdoors. Check out our list of the Best Solar-Powered Fridges for Camping and pick the one that’s right for you! Click here to learn more: Best Solar-Powered Fridges for Camping.