Electric fridge for off grid — YES

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What? An electric fridge off grid

To heck with hauling propane. Introducing the Magic Chef 10 cu. ft. fridge.
To heck with hauling propane. This is my Magic Chef 10 cu. ft. fridge.
Yes. And why? Money $$$

Like most folks I started off grid with a propane fridge. Now propane fridges are great if you’re traveling because an absorption fridge works even while it’s being shaken (if not stirred).

But when you live off grid, chances are your fridge isn’t moving. So now it comes down to saving $$$.

How cool are the savings?

Apples to apples, a propane fridge is expensive. An electric fridge is cheap.


$1,100 to 2,000 bucks gets you a good 8-10 cu. ft. propane fridge. $400 to 800 will buy you a reasonable 10 to even awesome 18 cu. ft. electric refrigerator.

Running costs:

Propane fridges of reasonable size, with fridge and freezer compartment use 1.25 lbs of propane a day. Every day. That means in my area the annual running cost is $450/yr in propane. Plus you have to drive into town to fill the tank, etc etc.

Electric fridges, a small 10 cu ft, will use around 300 kw/yr. That means you need roughly 500 watts of power and additional battery capacity of 1 kw. That’s about a thousand bucks worth of additional solar system investment. Annual costs thereafter are paid for.

The savings start day one

Propane costs initially are, and we can debate this, but “apples to apples” 1,500 to 2,500. And an electric fridge and additional solar are about  1,100 to 2,100. The biggest savings are in the cost of the fridge. A good propane fridge is at least $700 bucks more expensive than a good electric fridge.

We can quibble about the support costs. Yes, an electric fridge costs money in solar capacity. But a propane fridge also needs a propane tank, feeder lines, specialist install, etc. So, round it all up and down and around, your cost to install the electric fridge off grid is probably hundreds to thousands less.

I mean you save $800 and up just on the fridge. Plus: yearly running cost savings of $450 (in my area just for the propane not considering transportation).

That’s why planning for an electric fridge is Creek’s top tip!

Build a slightly bigger solar system and an electric fridge. The environment and your pocket book will thank you.

Yep. You’re welcome.

PS-I just saved you so much money. And hassle. Could you buy me a sandwich. See my donation link. Thx you’ze all.

PSS-I’ve been running my electric fridge for just over two years; I’ve realized about $1,000 in propane savings (as of May 22, 2015). And I sold my old used propane fridge for more than I paid for the new electric replacement.

Note: 2015 update

Recent research online shows the new 18 cu.ft. “energy star” electric fridges using the same power as my 10 cu.ft. So a fridge double the size of a propane fridge for less money and no carrying cost. What???

See. Creektreat.ca rules.

6 thoughts on “Electric fridge for off grid — YES”

  1. Great article and thanks for sharing such an easy to implement tip. Even those of us living on the grid can benefit from the information. (I rent an apartment with an old gigantic 1980s fridge that is barely half full most of the time and I’m sure a 10 cu.ft. MagicChef would save in electricity costs tremendously.)

    1. creeky my friend. nice job of showing how much even a small off grid solar system can do. take it from an old geezer like myself. who has a propane fridge. your sandwich is buttered. would you like mayonnaise too?

    1. Hi Erin,

      I bought a Magic Chef 10 cuft from a big box. The
      Canadian energy guide was 311kw/annual.

      I will point out that in testing it actually uses
      (with my use characteristics, ie. Single guy, not
      family of 4) 500w / day. It was fairly cool out when
      I did the testing tho. So high summer will be more.

      But the point of this, there are new fridges that
      go up to 18 cu ft. with kw ratings of 322. So not
      that much more.

      Personally, I would go with a larger fridge. Smile.

      The GE Profile 18 cuft is one I dream of. Various makers have
      “eco star” models.

      Update to my post. I have saved over $1400 in propane now.

      1. Thanks, super helpful! Do you have a blog post where you estimate your total KWH of energy useage and/or give us the specs on your solar system? Would love those details if you are up for it.

        My tiny house trailer is arriving in a week!!

        1. I’m excited for you. Share your story!
          Have a look at bobolinksolar.com. They have a great small solar system. The components would be perfect for your tiny home. Take the list down to your local guys and see what they can do.
          I did do some early posts on my solar build. It kept growing! I have a lithium battery pack now * (lithium rules). I also expanded to 2kw of solar. So I use between 1.5 and 8 kw a day. Depending on if I run the dishwasher and use the a/c.
          Love to Morningstar for their reliable and powerful solar controllers. TBS/Victron inverters. Remember. The inverter is the heart of the system. Don’t skimp there.
          * I have a few 😉 lithium posts here too.

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