Off-Grid Refrigeration: DC vs. AC Comparison – What Consumers Should Know About Costs and Efficiency
An informed Off-Grid customer has the opportunity to be efficient with resources, generate less food waste and save money with a quality DC chest refrigerator/freezer. Sounds too good to be true? We assure you it isn’t. Read this short explanation of key considerations when making the decision to go with an AC or DC refrigerator or freezer. There is more to consider than just the upfront cost of the appliance itself. With 20 years of experience, let the experts at Phocos explain why a quality DC refrigerator or DC freezer appliance has a substantial edge if your goal is to be efficient with energy and money.
6 Important DC vs. AC Comparison Considerations
1. Understand how air moves when you open the appliance. What happens? What is most efficient?
With a DC chest refrigerator/freezer, when opening the lid, it creates a vacuum type suction that removes the warmest air out of the unit (see stratification blog description). The way a chest style appliance works, the warmest air is on top so standard opening and closing creates less energy loss in comparison to a upright AC refrigerator/freezer. When opening the door of an upright AC refrigerator/freezer (especially a side by side refrigerator), all of the cold air comes out, replaced with potential warm air depending on ambient temperatures in the room. For the AC appliance, immediately the compressor fans and circulation fans come on, requiring energy. For individuals looking to be efficient with their energy usage, the DC appliance is the obvious choice.
2. Total upfront system cost must be evaluated
Quality DC refrigeration appliances may cost more than an AC equivalent upfront, but consumers should consider there is less equipment to buy for the overall system to operate properly. Due to the efficiency of a quality DC appliance less solar and less battery capacity is required. Therefore, the total upfront system cost is actually less expensive (see example DC vs. AC total system cost price comparison).
3. Is efficiency and sustainability a factor in decision making?
When people are able to choose efficiency over wasting resources, they will choose efficiency. The more individuals understand about the realities discussed in bullet #1 and #2 above, they are able to choose the most cost effective and the most efficient solution with a quality DC chest refrigerator/freezer. It is a win/win opportunity no matter what a consumer’s socioeconomic conditions are.
4. Simple to operate, less option for failure
With a quality DC refrigerator/freezer, you simply set the thermostat to optimize performance to your personal requirements or needs. The power is in the hands of the consumer and once set, there are not a lot of moving parts working to run the unit properly in comparison to an upright AC refrigerator/freezer. There is value in simplicity, for many reasons, especially for remote customers.
5. DIY vs. repair person
While repairs aren’t commonly required, quality DC refrigerator/freezer appliances are far easier to troubleshoot and repair because there are only three major components (compressor, controller, thermostat) as compared to the complexity of an AC unit. The simplicity of a DC chest appliance is a real value that is often overlooked. Repairs are simple with common hand tools and typically don’t require a technician, even for beginners. Inherently DC electricity is easier and safer to work with in comparison to AC electricity. This creates the opportunity for less downtime preventing food waste and frustration. Off-Grid customers in remote locations will be more self-sufficient.
6. Emergency readiness
A quality DC appliance is going to keep running when the utility grid goes down. Meaning you are not reliant on the utility grid power because the system powering the appliance offers an alternative solution for incoming power. In short, consumers have the choice to be more independent with DC power if they have created a reliable system design from the start.
These 6 simple tips are offered to inform the solar and Off-Grid community about important considerations when it comes to selecting a DC or AC refrigerator/freezer appliance. When efficiency and cost savings are the priority, a quality DC refrigerator or freezer is the clear choice.
Want to learn more about the DC refrigerator/freezers Phocos offers (FR-B Series)? Click here!