Efficient refrigerator and freezer for tiny house

14 Sep

I’m going to use a top-opening chest freezer and a chest refrigerator in my tiny house. When you open a top-opening fridge or freezer, the cold air stays inside since cold air is heavier than room temperature air.  When you open a normal front-opening fridge or freezer, the cold air quickly spills out, so the unit must power up and cool itself down much more often than a top-opening unit. I’m going to put countertops on top of them and mount them in my kitchen cabinets.

SunDanzer supposedly make some really nice top-opening chest fridges and chest freezers. They even make some units especially designed to work with solar power. Those units are designed to stay cold overnight (up to a week in some cases!) on their own, when there’s no sunlight to power your PV panels. And they are set up to run directly off solar PV panels, or on 12V or 24V DC power, so you can run them without throwing away 10% of your sun-generated electricity to an inverter.

SunDanzer makes two basic sizes and the amount of size inside (5.8 cubic feet for the small one) totally blows away the miniscule amount of space in an under-counter dorm fridge (about 1.2- 1.9 cubic feet that’s not very usable since there’s not enough height for tall bottles, and the freezer intrudes on the fridge space).

Another reason dorm fridges suck when placed under a counter is that this forces you to bend way down or squat down for access. That’s even harder to do in a small kitchen like in most Tumbleweed houses. This link takes you to a portion of a video showing this:

Most people (myself included, until now) are unaware of small and medium sized chest fridges and think that the only alternative to a stand-up fridge is a dorm fridge.  I hope I can spread the word about chest fridges as a terrific option!


3 Responses to “Efficient refrigerator and freezer for tiny house”

  1. ryochiji September 25, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    I have an Engel fridge/freezer that I’m quite happy with. They’re not as efficient as SunDanzer fridges and freezers, but they’re more durable, run on either 120V AC or 12V DC, and have 6 settings, from cool to deep freeze which makes it a better choice for “field” use. For use in a home, though, SunDanzers’ lower power consumption probably make them a better choice.

    • tinysunhouse September 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks, Ryo! I hadn’t looked into Engels yet. I love how they publish PDF charts of their products’ performance specs.

      I see that Engel has some top opening models (click here). I actually don’t know that SunDanzers consume less power than Engels. But I will sure find out. Engel looks like they have a great product range, and their range is broader and different than SunDanzer.

      Keep up the great work on Hut 2.0!


  2. Grant Wagner October 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Howdy! I’ve just stumbled onto this site via Tiny House Forum. I’ve been reading up to this point, and I like what I see.

    I completely agree about chest fridges. There is even a fellow in Australia who took a standard chest Freezer, hooked up a thermostat, and uses it as fridge. All at less than 100Wh a day.

    Unfortunately, the issue with tall chest coolers of any kind is that things in the bottom tend to get buried by things in the top. I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve started to get the idea of a series of small chests, each about two feet tall, and on heavy duty cabinet slides, all sharing a single compressor. Three or four units tall would give lots of space with nice easy to manage divisions so nothing gets lost.

    That can be paired with direct outdoor venting for colder days, and a predictive therostat would make for a very small amount of power needed.

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