Did you know that a standard fridge can account for a significant portion of your monthly electricity bill? That’s a significant chunk, but fridges are a necessity in nearly all households so you can’t really do away with them.
Thanks to solar technology, there is a cheaper alternative to your traditional electric fridges: solar refrigerators. They’re not only good for homes; some are made for outdoor use, too. If this is the first time you’ve heard of them, you’re in luck. Our guide below lists our pick for the best solar refrigerators, as well as some features to watch out for.
What to Consider When Buying A Solar Refrigerator
There are specific features of solar fridges that you wouldn’t particularly pay close attention to when buying a traditional refrigerator. Here are some of what we think are the most important features to look out for when buying solar fridges.
Solar Fridge Type
- Not all fridges are the same. Familiarize yourself with the available types of solar refrigerators before deciding on what you want to purchase.
- Identify what you intend to use the refrigerator for. If it’s for the home, go for stationary ones. If you want to bring your fridge along with you for camping, then a portable one is the way to go.
- Other than portability, the types of solar fridges are also divided into the panels that go with them. There are solar fridges with matching panels already included in them, but there are also fridges that do not.
- Solar refrigerators with matching panels save you the trouble of finding compatible solar panels. However, remember that regular maintenance is still necessary after set up for optimal performance.
- On the other hand, when you get solar fridges without panels, you would have to check and purchase compatible panels. The advantage of this is the flexibility in your solar fridge location and solar panel choice.
- The storage capacity of the solar refrigerator you pick will again depend on how you intend to use your fridge. Smaller fridges such as the 4 quarts sizes are portable and great for outdoor use but have limited storage capacity. Larger fridges contain more but are difficult to transport, so they are better suited for use at home.
- Concerning storage, also consider the adjustability or removability of the refrigerator’s dividers and shelves. Having removable shelving helps you maximize your fridge’s storage capacity and makes cleaning and maintenance easier.
Material and Temperature Range
- If using mainly for the outdoors, choosing the right material and temperature range improves your fridge’s efficiency.
- Fridges made of materials such as aluminum alloy, when coupled with appropriate insulation, can maintain cool temperatures even in extreme outdoor heat.
- In terms of temperature, a good range for adequate food and fluid refrigeration would be 35-45°F. Some fridges also offer freezing capacity and getting this is not a bad idea, especially for an extended period outdoors.
Solar Refrigerator Frequently Asked Questions
How does a solar refrigerator work?
The short answer is solar fridges converts sunlight into energy that chills the refrigerator’s storage compartment. Traditional kitchen fridges typically use a motor that compresses a refrigerant solution for keeping things inside them cool/freezing.
The difference is solar fridges absorb sunlight and use the thermal energy from this process to liquefy the refrigerant solution. This conversion process effectively produces energy that enables the fridge to cool itself and everything inside it.
What are the benefits of a solar refrigerator?
Like any other solar-powered system, solar-powered fridges offer benefits such as sustainable, clean, and cost-efficient energy. Being immune to power outages is also an advantage of having solar fridges.
Similarly, having solar refrigerators is also extremely useful in remote areas that aren’t reached by electricity providers. Solar-powered portable fridges differ from traditional ones in terms of their power source – they use sunlight instead of electricity from the grid.
How much power is needed to run a solar refrigerator?
The energy requirements of a solar-powered fridge depend on the actual energy consumption of the specific fridge you are after. The fridge energy consumption is indicated as yearly kWh. This value is usually printed on a sticker on the fridge.
Generally, values under 365 kWh can be run by 1000-watt solar systems. With portable units, however, most fridges generally require about 12/24 volts to run the solar fridge.
Solar Refrigerator Reviews
1. Whynter FM-45G Portable Refrigerator – 45 Quart
Whynter is a manufacturing company originating from California. Their products include refrigerators, coolers, air conditioners, air purifiers, fans, and dehumidifiers, to name a few.
Versatility in so many aspects is the key feature of the Whynter FM-45G. First, this cooling system can operate either as a fridge or a freezer, thanks to its adjustable temperature range from -8°F to 50°F. It’s also great for those times you need something rapidly cooled, as it has a “fast freeze” mode that cools the unit to -8°F in no time.
Second, this 65-watt fridge-freezer system is versatile in terms of the power source. While it’s not a fridge with an integrated solar panel, it can hook onto a compatible 12/24V solar panel. We also found it to be compatible with 100-200W roof solar panels. It also works with any 110V AC power source. What’s more, it can be hooked simultaneously to both AC and DC power systems. When both AC and DC are plugged in, the cooling works on AC first. In case the AC fails, it automatically reverts to DC.
This 45-quart cooling system also has flexible storage capacity, thanks to the two removable wire baskets included with the package. It’s suitable for use in your car or RV and for use at home or work.
The Whynter FM-45G is made of solid powder-coated steel encasement, and stainless-steel handles, making it perfect for rugged outdoor use. It’s also capable of functioning perfectly even when it’s tilted to 30 degrees.
Other great features of this fridge-freezer include a low power indicator and a powerful compressor cooling system. It also has an insulated lid and walls and a drain plug for easy cleaning.
Our only issue with the Whynter FM-45G is although marketed as portable, it’s relatively heavy, and you’d need to be super strong. It would probably be easier doing it with the help of another person. When bringing on a family or group camping trip, it should be fine as long as you have someone helping you.
In short, if you’re looking for an extremely versatile solar-powered fridge, you may find the Whynter FM-45G a top contender.
- Extremely versatile – operates as a fridge or freezer.
- Fast freeze mode.
- Dual voltage – use AC or DC. Works with 12/24V or 100-200W solar panels.
- Flexible storage – 45 quarts with removable wire baskets.
- Suitable for use home, work, car, or RV.
- Durable stainless-steel materials.
- Functions even when tilted at 30 degrees.
- Great extra features – low power indicator, insulated walls, drain plug.
- Relatively heavy at 40 lbs.
2. Dometic CFX3 75DZ Solar Powered Refrigerator – 79 Quart
Dometic is a Swedish company that started as refrigerator manufacturers. The brand has now evolved into products that make “mobile living easier,” such as portable fridges and so much more.
Its made-for-outdoors design is undeniably the standout feature of the Dometic CFX3 75DZ. It’s built of a tough and durable ExoFrame exterior and a thermoformed plastic shell. This material combination allows it to endure the ruggedness of the great outdoors. It’s also lightweight with an aluminum alloy spring handle, so you can drag it along harsh environments without damaging it. You also don’t have to worry about rain or heat as the fridge’s display panels are fully weatherproof.
Speaking of the display, the Dometic CFX3 75DZ has an amazingly user-friendly user interface with a high-resolution display indicating operating status. Alongside this display are soft-touch buttons that allow you to control the settings on your fridge easily.
Another great feature of the CFX3 75DZ is its flexibility in terms of power options. It can be powered by AC, DC, and solar power sources. Dometic recommends using 100W or higher solar panels and at least 40Ah batteries for the fridge to function using solar energy.
This Dometic fridge has a large storage capacity of just over 79 quarts, made up of 4- and 31-quarts compartments. That means you can easily fit about 113 cans of your favorite drinks in this portable fridge.
Another unique feature of the Dometic CFX3 75DZ is the accompanying mobile app connected via WiFi or Bluetooth. It allows you to control the fridge’s temperature and monitor its performance through your mobile device’s app.
Battery management is also impressive with the CFX3. It is equipped with a three-stage battery protection system, automatically shutting off to prevent your car’s battery from running flat.
Other impressive features of the CFX3 include its fully wrapped evaporator plate. It also has a fast-cooling and deep-freezing down feature, which activates it to reach temperatures up to –7°F quickly.
One big setback of the Dometic CFX3 is its four-figure price range. But if you have the money to spend, we think the above features may be worth it.
Overall, if you’re after an extremely rugged and feature-rich portable solar fridge, the Dometic CFX3 is the premium choice.
- Rugged and durable construction made for the outdoors.
- User-friendly interface – high-resolution display and soft-touch keys.
- Flexible power options – AC, DC, or solar.
- Excellent battery management.
- Fully wrapped evaporator plate.
- Fast-cooling and deep-freezing technology – up to –7°F.
- Expensive, with a four-figure price range.
3. Alpicool C20 Solar Powered Mini Fridge – 21 Quart
If you were put off by the price of the previous product on this list, please keep reading, as the next ones will be significantly more affordable.
Let’s start with the Alpicool C20, which is the most affordable product on this list and happens to be our value pick.
Alpicool is a Chinese manufacturer of a wide range of cooling products, such as fridges, air conditioners, and ice makers.
The Alpicool C20 is the budget-friendly counterpart of the more expensive Dometic range. We say this because they have a few similarities when it comes to features.
The Alpicool also has a user-friendly LCD control panel, allowing for easy operation and monitoring of the unit. It comes with easy-to-understand buttons so you can easily increase or decrease the fridge’s temperature or change the battery setting.
Speaking of battery, the Alpicool C20 is equipped with car battery protection. This feature prevents your RV or other vehicle’s battery from running down when charging through it.
The Alpicool is also flexible when it comes to the source of power. It runs on AC, DC, or at least 100W of solar panel energy.
It may come at a relatively cheaper price point, but it’s definitely built to last. The Alpicool is made of lightweight and durable plastic material, so it’s suitable for indoor or outdoor use. It’s also shockproof and has built-in anti-shake features, withstanding travel up to slopes of up to 45 degrees.
In terms of capacity, the C20 fridge has a 21 quarts capacity, which translates to around 25 cans of soda. The temperature range is -4℉ to 50℉, with an outstanding freeze capability of up to -4°F. In short, it functions as both a fridge and a freezer.
One thing that’s unimpressive about the Alpicool C20 is its instruction manual. It doesn’t necessarily clearly explain what you need to know, so you’d end up figuring things out on your own.
However, if you’re looking for an affordable solar fridge with high-end features, the Alpicool C20 is a top option.
- Relatively affordable compared to similar products.
- User-friendly LCP panel.
- Car battery protection prevents the battery run down.
- Flexible power source capabilities – AC, DC, or solar.
- Lightweight and durable plastic material.
- Anti-shake and shockproof.
- Vaguely written instruction manual.
4. Sundanzer Solar Powered Refrigerator – 50 Quart
SunDanzer is a brand offering sustainable off-grid refrigeration solutions. Interestingly, the brand was established by the leader of one of NASA’s advanced refrigeration projects.
The SunDanzer is a 1.8 cubic feet fridge with a 50-liter capacity. It’s a fridge/freezer that’s ideal for home or office use.
A standout feature of the SunDanzer is its extremely efficient energy consumption. On average, it utilizes around 114 kWh/day or 9.6 Amp-hrs/day at 12V.
This chest-style fridge freezer is built to last. It is built with an exterior material composed of powder-coated galvanized steel and an aluminum interior. Cleaning is also made super easy thanks to the drain hole at the bottom of the unit.
The fridge cabinets come equipped with thick insulation of around 11 cm, which adds to its energy-efficiency and reliable operation.
The SunDanzer is also versatile when it comes to its eco-friendly power sources. It is optimized for solar energy use but can also be powered by wind, fuel cells, or batteries.
If there is any drawback to the SunDanzer solar fridge, it’s probably that it’s only meant for stationary use. It’s definitely not an option if you’re after a fridge to bring to your outdoor adventures.
Overall, if you’re looking for an extremely efficient and eco-friendly home or office fridge, the Sundanzer is a top contender.
- Extremely efficient energy consumption – 11kWh or 9.6 Amp-hrs a day.
- Generous 50-L capacity.
- Durable steel exterior and aluminum interior.
- Drain holes for easy cleaning.
- Thick insulation of 11 cm for energy efficiency.
- Versatile, eco-friendly power source options.
- Heavy, so only meant for stationary use.
5. LiONCooler X50A Solar Fridge – 52 Quart
LiONCooler is a brand focused on a range of solar-powered portable coolers. The brand falls under the umbrella of ACOPower, a tech startup company.
The LiONCooler X50A is a 52-quarts, 50-L fridge freezer. It’s designed to be portable, with a telescopic handle and large, durable 6-inch wheels that make moving around extremely easy.
The key features of the LiONCooler come from its batteries. First is its snap-in battery system. The batteries are designed to be durable and removable from the fridge unit via a snap-lock system.
In terms of charging, the battery has three charging modes. You can choose from solar panels, AC, or from your 12-volt car charger. The batteries take 4-6 hours to charge fully, allowing it to run for an impressive 10 hours. However, if plugged directly into an AC power source, the battery will remain full-charged, keeping your fridge freezer constantly functional.
The LiONCooler X50A also comes with a USB charging port for charging your USB-enabled devices even while on the road. It also comes with an android- or iOS-compatible app that allows you to control the temperature settings remotely via Bluetooth. If you’re not a fan of apps, you can control it via the digital LCS screen on top of the cooler.
A probable setback to the X50A is its relatively high price, especially for a cooler-type fridge. But it does have great features, so it may still be a worthy purchase if budget is not a problem.
To summarize, the LiONCooler is a great option if you’re looking for a portable solar refrigerator with flexible power options.
- Extremely portable – telescopic handle and 6-inch wheels.
- Durable battery with a snap-in removable feature.
- Impressive battery features – three charging modes, 10 hours run time, 4–6-hour charge time.
- USB charging port capable.
- Mobile app for controlling fridge settings.
- Relatively expensive.
6. LiONCooler X40A Solar Powered Fridge – 42 Quart
The X40A is another portable solar fridge freezer from the LiONCooler brand. This is slightly smaller than the X50A, as it only has a 42-quarts or 40-L capacity.
Other than the size difference, it has all of the appealing features we have enumerated for the X50A.
Another great feature of the X40A and the rest of the LiONCooler range not already mentioned is its LG compressors. These compressors are made of top-quality materials, which ensures optimum performance. It allows the LiONCooler to have a freezing capacity of up to -4°F.
Another obvious advantage of the X40A over the X50A is size. Because it’s smaller, it is easier to transport and can fit smaller spaces inside your car or RV.
One more feature worth mentioning for the X40A and the rest of the LionCooler range is its warranty cover. A one-year warranty applies for the solar fridge and accessories, while the compressor’s warranty is longer at two years.
Finally, because the LiONCooler is extremely energy efficient, a 90-watt solar panel is enough to power it adequately. Acopower sells its own foldable solar panels, but the LiONCooler will work with any other compatible solar panel brand.
In terms of the drawback, our observation remains the same for all the LiONCooler ranges. It is that the price may be a bit too expensive for the general population. However, again, this is a negligible issue if you have the cash to spare.
Overall, if you want a mid-sized, high-end portable cooler, the LiONCooler X40A is a good option to keep in mind.
- Great quality LG compressors – freezing capacity of up to -4°F.
- Smaller at 42-quarts, so easier to transport and store.
- Excellent warranty – one year for fridge and accessories, two years for the compressor.
- Extremely energy efficient – a 90-watt solar panel is sufficient to charge it.
- Relatively expensive.
7. Ausranvik Off Grid Refrigerator – 37 Quart
Ausranvik is a Chinese manufacturer of 12-volt portable fridges, including solar-powered refrigeration systems.
As its name implies, the Ausvik 37 has a generous capacity of 37 quarts or 35 liters. It’s equipped with two shelving components that correspond to its dual temperature zone of cold and cool. In other words, it acts as both a fridge and freezer system. This allows you to separate your camping food and beverages into their appropriate coldness levels.
Another attractive design feature is Ausvik 37’s anti-pinch design. It comes with a protective damper on one of the fridge’s sides and a buffer surrounding the door. These features prevent you from inadvertently slamming the door shut and pinching your fingers. They’re certainly a great feature, especially if you’re heading out camping or to a picnic with your young children. It also comes with an LED screen with touch buttons for monitoring and easy control of your cooling system.
This portable solar refrigerator’s internal tank is made of aluminum, enabling the inside temperature to drop faster and stay cool longer. It also has thick insulation of 1.37 inches giving the fridge system the ability to remain cool for longer. The cold lasts up to 10 hours even when the power is turned off. It’s also equipped with an intelligent battery management system. It automatically turns to the economy mode from maximum mode as soon as the temperature reaches your desired level.
On the topic of battery, the Ausvik 37 comes with a battery protection mode preventing your vehicle’s battery from exhaustion. It automatically deactivates the compressor when the input voltage is lower than the minimum required for your fridge. There is a bit of flexibility when it comes to powering the battery. It can be used with AC, DC, or solar power sources.
In terms of durability, the Ausvik 37 has removable stainless-steel handles that help with portability. It’s also armed with anti-tilt, anti-shake, and anti-shock features, tolerating whatever terrain you travel in. This is a handy solar fridge feature, especially if you love off-roading.
There are just a few drawbacks that we discovered with the Ausvik 37. First, for a portable freezer, it is relatively heavy at 37.52 lbs.
The area where the AC cord connects also could do with some reinforcement. We found this area to be made of thin material, which may bend easily if you’re not careful.
Overall, the Ausvik 37 is a good choice for a solar fridge to use for your picnic or camping trips.
- Dual temperature zones – acts as a fridge and freezer.
- Anti-pinch design – built-in damper and buffer systems.
- Great battery features – smart management, battery protection, and runs on AC, DC, or solar.
- Durable – stainless-steel handles, anti-shock, anti-tilt, and anti-shake.
- Heavy for a portable refrigerator.
- The area where the AC connector is plugged in is a bit fragile.
8. Whynter Dual Zone Portable Fridge – 62 Quart
Our next solar refrigerator pick is another product from the Whynter brand. There are just a couple of differences between the Whynter 62-quart and the FM-45G earlier described on this list.
The first is in terms of storage capacity. The Whynter 62-quart has a larger capacity of 62 quarts or over 58L. It is significantly more spacious compared to FM-45G’s 45-quartz capacity.
The second difference and the key feature of the Whynter 62 at the same time is its dual temperature mode. To recap, the FM-45G lets you choose between using it as a fridge OR a freezer. With the 62-quartz model, you don’t have to choose as it can be operated simultaneously as a fridge AND a freezer. It even has two storage compartments distinctly separating the two zones and a separate door for each.
In terms of the remaining features, the Whynter 62-quartz has all the Whynter FM-45G features. It operates through flexible power sources, whether it’s AC, DC, or solar. The package even comes with an 8-feet AC power cord and a 10-feet DC power cord.
Other great features consistent with the Whynter range of solar fridges include the LED temperature display. And yes, it also has the fast freeze mode, the low power indicator, and the 30-degree tilt capacity.
There are just a few niggles we have with the Whynter 62-quartz. The first is it does have a noticeable noise with each cycle. While cycle noise is not unusual for all fridges regardless of power source, the Whynter 62-quartz’s noise is definitely more pronounced.
Another possible setback is that it is quite heavy is less likely to be used outdoors. But then again, if you’re after a portable solar fridge with the same features, there is always the Whynter FM-45G alternative.
In short, if you’re after a feature-packed, durable, dual temperature solar fridge for stationary use, the Whynter 62-quartz is a great option.
- Spacious, 62-quartz / 58L capacity.
- Dual temperature mode – simultaneously use as a fridge and freezer.
- Flexible power options – AC, DC, or solar.
- Great extra features – fast freeze, LED display, low power indicator, 30-degree tilt ability.
- Noticeable cycle noise.
- Heavy so not for use as a portable fridge.
9. COSTWAY Car Refrigerator -55 Quart
Costway probably doesn’t need an introduction as it has been a known retailer of consumer goods for quite some time. Perhaps what is less known is that since 2009, Costway has started selling some of its name-brand products online. You can now find their products listed on platforms like Amazon and eBay.
The Costway 55-quartz fridge’s appealing feature is its separate dual-zone design. This portable cooling system has two separate compartments: one for freezing and one for refrigerating. The temperature levels are also easily controlled thanks to a user-friendly display panel located on the side of the fridge.
For a portable fridge freezer, this Costway product is relatively spacious at 55-quartz capacity. That equates to about 84 standard beer bottles, 60 standard water bottles, or 19 typical bottles of your favorite wine.
Another great feature of the Costway 55-quartz is its intelligent battery protection system. It is equipped with three levels of protection – low, medium, and high. These protection levels ensure the safety of both your fridge and vehicle battery. The protection system is activated once the input voltage does not meet the minimum requirement. The activated system stops the compressor from working but then resumes it automatically as soon as the voltage returns to minimum requirements.
Speaking of compressors, the Costway 55-quartz is backed by a high-quality compressor that enhances the function of your fridge. This compressor is extremely efficient and allows you to customize the unit’s temperature within its range of -4°F to 50°F.
One setback to the Costway 55-quartz comes in the design and quality of its included cables. They are not exactly the highest quality, and they tend to become very loose easily. This flaw means you have to take extra measures to ensure it doesn’t unplug itself from your power source.
Another issue we have is it doesn’t seem to hold temperature well when not connected to a power source. We found that if unplugged even for under an hour, the temperature tends to go up 5-10 degrees higher.
In summary, the Costway 55-quartz is a good reasonable capacity fridge freezer provided you keep it constantly connected to a power source. This shouldn’t be a problem if you have a readily available charged solar panel or a reliable DC output.
- Separate dual-zone design – freezing and refrigerating component.
- Spacious 55-quartz capacity.
- Intelligent battery protection system – low, medium, or high protection.
- High-quality compressor with a range of -4°F to 50°F.
- Cable inclusions easily loosen.
- Doesn’t sustain cold temperatures when unplugged.
10. ACOPOWER RA Portable Solar Fridge – 42 Quart
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because ACOPower it’s the company that owns the LiONCooler brands included in our list.
The AC power portable solar fridge freezer is a great cooling system for use on a family day out. It’s super lightweight and easy with a trolley design for ease of portability. It has a 42-quart capacity, which essentially means it can carry either eight 2L drinks or 30 standard water bottles. If you’re more of a soda person, you’d be glad to know it can hold 64 cans of your favorite soda too.
Battery management shouldn’t also be a problem, thanks to the ACOPower’s built-in battery. It also comes with a universal adapter, a solar charge cable, and a car power cord. Plus, it has integrated USB ports, so you can simultaneously charge your smartphones or other USB-enabled devices.
Another great feature that is extremely handy for a day outdoors is the ACOPower’s quick cooling feature. This chills food or beverage to 10°F in just under 40 minutes. It also comes with a digital control panel so you can control the temperature settings to as low as -4°F.
A glaring issue we have with this ACOPower fridge freezer is its poorly-defined function button. It has a silver-colored push button along the control area that isn’t indicated on their product description or instruction manual. Calling their customer service revealed that this is, in fact, a master compressor switch. This information would have been useful on a manual or at least indicated on the button itself.
Another thing we feel worth noting is that the compressor tends to let out audible noise. But if you’re not too bothered by a bit of noise, then this shouldn’t be a problem. Depending on your sensitivity, the noise isn’t necessarily too loud to be annoying.
All in all, the ACOPower is another good option to consider for an extremely portable yet spacious solar fridge freezer.
- Lightweight trolley design for ease of portability.
- Relatively spacious 42-quartz capacity.
- Built-in battery with an excellent management system.
- Quick cooling feature to up to 10°F in under 40 minutes.
- Poorly defined function button not described on manual or product description.
- Audible compressor noise.
Solar refrigerators are excellent cost-efficient alternatives to traditional fridges, and portable solar fridges definitely make outdoor adventures more enjoyable. While there are a few solar refrigerators available in the market, our favorite and top pick would be the Whynter FM-45G Portable Refrigerator.
It’s super versatile in so many areas it’s suitable for both stationary and outdoor use, as well as a variety of power supply choices. It also has a relatively spacious capacity of 45 quartz and an adjustable temperature range of -8°F to 50°F. Other than the essentials, it has other extra appealing features that definitely make it even more irresistible.