How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Power a Refrigerator? Our EASY Guide
If you’re ready to make the move to solar power, there’s a lot of information to take in. Figuring out how much energy your solar panel system produces compared to how much you need takes a bit of math, but it’s not hard to do.
For those wondering, “How many solar panels do I need to power a refrigerator?” Let’s take a look.
How to Calculate How Many Solar Panels You Need to Power Your Refrigerator
We’ll be discussing refrigerators in this guide, but remember that the calculations are the same for every household appliance.
Determine How Many Watts Your Solar Panels Produce
The amount of solar power your solar panels produce depends on a number of things, including the panels themselves, your setup, and the weather. The average residential solar panel produces at least 250 watts during peak production (1).
If a solar panel produces 250 watts for four hours a day, it equates to 1 kWh.
(250 x 4 ÷ 1000)
Determine How Many Watts Your Refrigerator Uses
Your refrigerator might have an Energy Rating sticker which estimates the average kWh per year the fridge uses. If not, look for the information in the user guide. Energystar.gov states:
ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard.
To find out how many kWh your refrigerator uses in a day, divide the annual usage by 365.
Divide the Energy Used By the Energy Produced
Now that you know how much energy you’re producing and what your energy needs are, the rest is easy. Just divide the energy required by the energy produced, and the result is the number of solar panels you need.
- Your fridge uses 2 kWh per day
- Your solar panel produces 1 kWh per day
2 ÷ 1 = 2, so you need 2 solar panels to solar power your fridge.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Power a Full-Sized Refrigerator?
You’ll need to use the calculations above to determine exactly how many solar panels you’ll need to power a full-sized fridge because panel output and refrigerator consumption vary.
But to give you an idea of how many solar panels the average refrigerator will use, you can estimate the daily consumption using an equation from Energy.gov.
(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day) ÷ 1000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption (3)
Let’s say your refrigerator uses 700 kWh per year, which is about 1.9 kWh per day. If your solar panels produce about 1 kWh per day, then you’ll need two solar panels to solar power your full-sized refrigerator.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Power a Small Refrigerator?
Refrigerators, solar panels, and solar charge controllers have become increasingly energy-efficient over the years, so you can power even large refrigerators with solar energy. To put things in perspective, Trent Hamm, a Founder and Columnist for The Simple Dollar has stated:
Over the history of home refrigeration, the energy use of a refrigerator has halved about every 15 years.
Not too bad right?
If you want to minimize your energy consumption even more, you can opt for a small refrigerator that runs on next to nothing. For example, the Midea model in our guide to the Best Solar Refrigerator of 2021 only needs 80 watts to operate.
Since a small, energy-efficient refrigerator uses very little energy, the average solar panels you’ll find will often provide plenty of power to run them. For those still wondering, “How many solar panels do I need to power a refrigerator?” check out this great video from Off Grid Talk to help all this sink in:
As with any other appliance, though, you’ll need to check your user’s manual to see how many kWh your fridge uses compared to how many watts you’re getting out of your solar panels, charge controller, and batteries together.
With ample sunlight conditions, you can easily run most 12-volt camping fridges with a proper-sized solar panel or chain of solar panels. Use the calculations above to determine how many solar panels you’ll need to run your fridge 24/7 with solar power.
A 100-watt solar panel can power a refrigerator, as long as the refrigerator is the right size and weather conditions permit it.
If you have a refrigerator that has a peak wattage load and operating wattage load beneath 100-watts, a 100-watt solar panel, and a bright sunny day — you will be able to run your refrigerator. For how long will depend on how many solar panels you have, your solar charge controllers, batteries, and the rest of your solar power setup.
To find out how many solar panels you need to run a refrigerator and a freezer, simply divide the appliance’s number of watts by the number of watts your solar panel produces. Keep in mind that the efficiencies of your refrigerator, freezer, solar panels, batteries, and solar charge controller can all work together to reduce your solar energy needs.
- How much energy does a solar panel actually produce? Electricity output explained. Retrieved from: https://news.energysage.com/what-is-the-power-output-of-a-solar-panel/
- Refrigerators. Retrieved from: https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances/refrigerators
- Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/appliances-and-electronics/estimating-appliance-and-home
- Is It Cost-Effective to Replace Your Refrigerator Today? Retrieved from: https://www.thesimpledollar.com/save-money/is-it-cost-effective-to-replace-your-refrigerator-today/
Hi, Im Dara. Born and raised in Farmingdale NY and I spend my time online covering alternative energy news and local developments,in the space. My mission is to help more people realise the benefits of using alternative energy. When i’m not blogging about energy you’ll find me walking my dog, working out, or practicing meditation!