A camping fridge is not just a necessity to guarantee your comfort while camping, it also keeps your food and drinks fresh for days. The downside is you need to ensure the available solar power is sufficient for the camping fridge. Otherwise, you risk losing your perishable foods because of poor planning.
You need 30Ah – 45Ah solar power for a camping fridge over a 24-hour period. A 12v camping fridge (40-50 L or 42-52 quarts) draws 1-5 amps an hour. An 85 watts panel produces about 5amps per hour, so you need it to charge for 7 hours for a fridge using 35Ah. Solar power depends on light conditions.
In this article, I’ll expound on solar power requirements for a camping fridge and how to calculate the energy you need to run your fridge comfortably.
How Your Camping Fridge Influences the Amount of Solar Power You Need
When buying a solar panel as part of your camping equipment, you must consider your power needs. Do you need solar power for lighting and charging your gadgets, or do you also need it to power your camping fridge?
The camping fridge uses at least 60% of your solar power. Therefore, you should ensure you have solar panels and batteries to power all your other appliances above the camping fridge’s consumption.
Here is a brief description of the terminologies used.
- Watts. This is the power that the solar panel produces. The total wattage can only be achieved when the panel is exposed to the ideal temperature and aligned perfectly with the sun.
- Amps. Amps refer to the electricity flowing from the solar panel through the cables.
- Amp-hour (Ah). This is the steady flow of amps per hour. For example, a fridge that draws 5 amps per hour utilizes more solar power than one that draws 2 amps per hour. When using a 100 amp/hour battery on a fridge consuming 2 amps per hour, the camping fridge will be powered for 50 hours.
- Volts. This is the pressure of electricity that the solar panel produces. Consider a water tank stored on high ground. A high voltage is similar to the force of water flowing from the tank. The higher the tank, the greater the pressure.
|Solar Panel Output||Daily Output (5hrs Sun Exposure)||Battery Capacity||12v Fridge Daily Usage||Daily Runtime|
|50W Panel (80% efficiency).||200Wh||500Wh||420Wh (30 – 50 liters or 31 – 52 quarts)||38 – 45hrs|
|100W Panel (80% efficiency)||400Wh||1000Wh||420Wh (30 – 50 liters 31 – 52 quarts)||4 – 6 days|
|100W Panel (80% efficiency)||400Wh||500Wh||540Wh (50 – 70 liters or 52 – 73 quarts)||38 – 45hrs|
How To Calculate Solar Power for a 12v Camping Fridge
12v camping fridges draw 1-5 amps per hour. To calculate how much solar power you need, you should know the duration you expect to run the refrigerator.
If your 12v camping fridge draws 2 amps per hour, you should calculate the watts it will need to sustain it.
Amps x volts = watts.
12 (volts) x 2 (amps) = 24 watts
So, you’ll need 24 watts per hour to run a 12v camping fridge.
If you intend to run the camping fridge for 5 hours, you’ll need 120 watts (24 x 5). Therefore, if the camping refrigerator is to run for 24 hours, you need a panel with high output and a battery to store the extra energy.
You need a solar panel with a minimum output of 120 watts. If you have other electrical appliances that need to be powered simultaneously, you need a higher output. A 150 watts solar panel with a 200-watt battery is an ideal option.
If camping in summer, you may get away with having a minimum solar panel output because it will receive sufficient sunlight. However, in spring, fall, or winter, you will need a solar panel with a higher output.
|Fridge Capacity||Amps drawn per 24 hours||Watts drawn in 24 hours||Ideal Solar Panel Size (in watts)|
|30 – 50 Liters (31 – 52 quarts)||35Ah||420||500|
|50 – 70 liters (52 – 73 quarts)||45Ah||540||600|
|80 liters (83 quarts)||65Ah||780||800|
12v Camping fridges and solar power needs for every 24 hours.
The solar power you need will vary, depending on the fridge settings, how long you run it, and how full it is. A fuller fridge uses more energy to cool the items inside.
This video shows what you need and how to power a 12v camping fridge.
Ways To Get Solar Energy to Your Camping Fridge
Solar panels are the avenue through which you can get solar power to your camping fridge. However, there are multiple ways to get the solar energy you need for your fridge and other appliances.
Foldable Solar Panels
Foldable solar panels are lightweight, and portable, do not require a lot of storage space and can be moved around to face the sun. They are perfect for short camping trips. However, they are not ideal for long-term campers.
Foldable panels produce 100 – 150 watts, while the standard panels produce 250 – 365 watts. Their output is relatively low. You cannot charge your camping fridge for long if its power demand exceeds the solar panel’s absorption.
This ACOPOWER 120W Portable Solar Panel (available on Amazon.com) is excellent for RV Camping. It is compatible with most of the solar generators in the market and has a high conversion efficiency of up to 25%. Additionally, it has a nice portable handle design, with three 40 watts solar panels folded in a suitcase.
RV Kit Solar Panels
These solar panels are ideal for long-term campers, especially if you use an RV. You can fix the solar panels on your RV’s roof so that you get constant solar power. The downside is the RV solar kit is quite pricey. However, it is worth it if you camp often. Investing in solar equipment might also give you the motivation to go camping.
This WEIZE 100 Watt 12V Solar Panel Kit (available on Amazon.com) is a high-efficiency solar kit that you can use on your RV, boat, or camper. It has high-performance monocrystalline solar cells with up to 21% efficiency, it’s durable, versatile, and installation ready. Also, it has various accessories, including extension cables, battery tray cables, and screws.
Choosing the right solar panel for a camping fridge is a challenge, even for seasoned campers. Several factors affect the output, including the weather, how often you open or close the refrigerator, and how long you need to run the camping fridge.
The ideal situation is to have a higher output solar panel than what the fridge needs. This way, you can store the extra energy in batteries to ensure your fridge keeps running even when the solar panel is not charging.
- National Luna: What size solar panel do you need for camping?
- Big Outdoor Adventure: The Best Size Solar Panel for Running a 12 Volt Fridge
- Best Generator Solar: Pure Power Solar: How to Choose a Solar Panel for Camping (With Examples)
- HIVAN: Can a Solar Panel Run a Camping Fridge?
- Alternative Energy Options: Can You Run a 12-Volt Fridge from a Solar Panel?
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