Here we will share some thoughts/experiences with different areas, such as product reviews, entertainment, or other things. Refrigerators: we've had some problems [or know of others who have had problems] with refrigerators purchased for use with PV solar systems [they have much more insulation than the average refrigerator and can be connected directly to the batteries, which is great if the inverter 'dies']. And, the problems have been with three different brands: SunFrost, Sundanzer, and Stecca. These refrigerators are expensive, and when they only last two-three years [and in the case of the third one, it didn't even last that long], it's really a big drag. Please note that we "love" solar-oriented products, especially refrigerators, which are total electricity hogs. We also want to support companies that are fundamentally interested in creating products that last long, are well-made, have the environment in mind, are solar compatible/focused, and more. We also REALLY like the fact that solar-based refrigerators and freezers can be hooked up directly to the batteries, thus bypassing the inverter. If the inverter goes down, one still has a fridge or freezer. Also, solar fridges and freezers tend to be much quieter than non-solar ones. So, it is with much regret that we are starting to step away from solar-based fridges, and have some hesitancy recommending them to others.
The Sunfrost used to be considered the top of the line in PV refrigerators, but there have been more competitors come into the PV refrigerator market in the past decade or so, so it's unknown at this time if Sunfrost is still considered top of the line at this point. The Sunfrost we had that had problems was turned off for a while, and it seemed that the refrigerant may have leaked out for some unknown reason. It's not easy at all finding out if someone in Hawaii can replace the refrigerant, and to get the refrigerator to that person. We did finally find someone who was able to re-fill with refrigerant, and they tested it and the Sunfrost ran. Brought it back home, turned it on, and a while later, it was warm inside the fridge. It appears that the coolant had leaked again, even though the guy who filled it said he tested for leaks. So, now we have a dead, expensive, Sunfrost (again). As another note, Sunfrost is no longer selling their fridges in Hawaii - they will not ship to Hawaii anymore. The Sundanzer refrigerator [a chest type] seems to have a bad/defective thermostat, which has been replaced twice so far. After replacing the thermostat twice, AND installing a rubber hose in the refrigerator wall to put the thermostat wire on the inside of the tube, it appears to be working, although we don't really know why, nor how long it will work. But, an average person may not be able to make the kinds of modifications we were able to make. Furthermore, we found out about a year or so ago that this brand develops leaks around the bottom corners/edges, and it was recommended to us that we caulk them with a very good caulk before they start leaking. That seems like a very 'bad' problem for such an expensive device. Additionally, this refrigerator is starting to freeze up on the sides and we think it may be on its last legs.
We have made the unusual [for us] decision to purchase a regular AC General Electric refrigerator, although we did buy an energy star model, based on this author's recommendations. Amazingly, I wasn't able to find much solid research on refrigerators and the 'best' energy conservation ones to purchase, or that could be purchased in Hawaii, anyway. The Stecca [another chest type] also seemed to have an electronic problem related to the compressor. It has been fixed and has been working so far. But, it was brand new, and the electronic component cost $300.
Thus, at this point in our experimentation with solar-built refrigerators and freezers, we are not sure what the best option is. We are going to experiment with the AC refrigerator and report back on how that works. We have also used propane refrigerators, but even those are expensive to purchase, and they use a LOT of propane [roughly 10 gallons per month]. Their long-term costs are quite high. These are not recommended.
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