Why a freezer to fridge conversion? When you're RV camping miles from civilization, a good working refrigerator is a must. A refrigerator should keep your food cold enough that it doesn't spoil, and ideally sip as little juice from the batteries as possible. And it would be nice if one could make fewer trips to town for propane, or better yet, to not have to rely on propane at all for refrigeration.
Before shelling out over $1,000 for an RV refrigerator, that will burn through your propane supply while boondocking, consider transforming a freezer into a super efficient refrigerator.
My freezer to refrigerator conversion is so efficient it runs completely off solar energy, with a system consisting of two 100-watt solar panels, two 12-volt deep cycle batteries, a solar charge controller, and an inverter.
Here in the sunny southwest, this is all the refrigerator needs to run continuously. It’s totally off-grid and requires no messy generator.
The conversion is so simple, and the cost is so low, it's something I recommend for anyone who wants to live off-grid or reduce their impact on the environment. All you need is a chest freezer and an external thermostat control.
Here's a Midea 3.5 Cubic Feet Chest Freezer, model number WHS-129C1, and it's about $160 on Amazon. It's Energy Star rated with a $23 Estimated Yearly Energy Cost. What I like about this freezer is that it's lightweight, doesn't take up much space, includes a removable basket, and is whisper-quiet.
First off, you might be wondering why you would want to use a freezer instead of a refrigerator? Well, there’s two good reasons:
In order for the freezer to fridge conversion to function as a refrigerator, so your food doesn't end up freezing, you will need an external thermostat that is made for refrigerators and freezers, such as this one.
This is the A19AAT Type Cooling Thermostat for Portable Applications, made by Johnson Controls, and it's around $60 on Amazon.
These external thermostats are designed to override on-board freezer and refrigerator thermostats to provide temperature control outside of the range of the on-board thermostats. This model has an adjustable range from 20 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Simply place the temperature probe into the freezer, plug the thermostat into the outlet, and plug the freezer into the thermostat.
I used a little putty tape (aka butyl tape) to secure the temperature probe to the inside of the freezer. Be sure that the tip of the probe is not in contact with the freezer walls.
One thing I like about this model is that it's a mechanical thermostat, and does not draw power like a digital thermostat, making this freezer to fridge conversion even more efficient. This type operates with a gas filled probe on a 6-foot capillary tube. When the gas contracts or expands in the probe, it triggers a mechanical device inside the control which turns the power on or off.
There is no probe temperature readout on the dial, so it's a good idea to keep a thermometer inside the refrigerator to observe the actual temperature. That's why I have an indoor & outdoor thermometer mounted on the wall with the temperature probe placed inside the freezer, which shows my food should be plenty cold.
I do have a few gripes about this freezer to refrigerator conversion:
Here are some energy saving tips to keep in mind when doing a freezer to refrigerator conversion:
Overall I'm very satisfied with this freezer to fridge conversion and believe this is the best way to keep food cold when RV boondocking and living off-grid.
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