DC VS AC REFRIGERATION IN OFF GRID APPLICATIONS

For a long time now, if you wanted to keep food cool and were running an off-grid/stand alone power system, a DC refrigerator was really the only choice.

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DC vs. AC – what’s the difference?

Back in the 1800’s, as the world started to take advantage of electricity, direct current (DC) was the only show in town. However, the major problem with it was power plants could only send DC electricity a short distance before electricity would “leak” – this is known as line loss.  George Westinghouse came up with a  system based on high-voltage alternating current (AC) that was able to delivery electricity a long way with far less line loss than DC.

Most appliances use DC?

However, many electrical appliances still use DC.  While a TV plugs into an AC power point,  circuitry in the TV converts this into DC. As there’s only a short distance from that point to the rest of the circuitry, there is little loss of power.

Unfortunately, you can’t plug an AC refrigerator straight into a DC power source. You need a power inverter between the source and the refrigerator. So the power is converted from DC to AC through the inverter, goes into the refrigerator and is converted to DC again.

During each stage of the conversion, some power is lost. Additionally, power inverters have traditionally been very expensive, so many people have opted to buy a DC refrigerator. As these are made in comparatively small quantities, they are far more expensive than their AC counterparts, sometimes thousands of dollars more – and tend to be smaller in capacity.

Times change

Some off grid power consultants have ceased recommending DC fridges recently as modern 240v fridges are now fairly efficient and comparable with DC models, consuming as little as 450 kWH per year.  Also considering that at a retail price of $1000 – $1100 for an AC fridge and the decreasing price of power inverters that tend to be a part of an off-grid system anyway, the cost saving compared to a DC fridge can buy extra panels

While an AC refrigerator may be the solution for your off-grid power system, it’s always best to consult with an expert first – feel free to contact our friendly team via email or on 1300 727 151. Even if you’re not able to use an AC fridge in your particular circumstances, we do offer a range of discounted DC refrigerators.