From Boats to Hurricanes – Solar Fridges

Ice equals civilization, no wait, hot showers equal civilization.  No, I think conventional wisdom would say it’s ice.  And if you’ve gone a while without ice or refrigeration, you’ll be able to relate. What to do if you’re on a small boat and you don’t want tear it up and spend thousands installing a reefer?  What do you do if you’re living in the Florida Keys in August and some category 5 hurricane marches through your backyard and all your steaks thaw?  Well, use what you’re likely to have in Florida and on a boat – the sun –  for solar generated ...

4th March 2010.
By Zuzana Prochazka

Ice equals civilization, no wait, hot showers equal civilization.  No, I think conventional wisdom would say it’s ice.  And if you’ve gone a while without ice or refrigeration, you’ll be able to relate.

What to do if you’re on a small boat and you don’t want tear it up and spend thousands installing a reefer?  What do you do if you’re living in the Florida Keys in August and some category 5 hurricane marches through your backyard and all your steaks thaw?  Well, use what you’re likely to have in Florida and on a boat – the sun –  for solar generated refrigeration. 


Frigid Rigid, a Florida company, has combined solar panels and their fridge/freezer boxes and voila, you can be cool without leaving a major carbon footprint.  Their solution comes in 4 flavors with offerings differing in box size (3.5 or 5.1 cubic feet), fridge only or a freezer combo, and one or two solar panels.  Refrigerators run on one 55W solar panel and freezers run on two panels.  The boxes include an internal battery and charger, and an amp meter.  There is also an auxiliary 120 V AC plug in, an illuminated on/off switch and a digital thermostat.  Auxiliary batteries can also be connected to the unit to supplement the internal battery. Any other source of 120 V AC or 12 V DC, such as a wind generator or traditional genset, can also be used to power these units.

Frigid Rigid boxes are made of fiberglass with a gelcoat finish and come with a 1 year warranty on the components and 5 years on the fiberglass box itself.  The fridge comes preset at 35-40 degrees F and the freezer at 10-20 degrees F.  But you can change these settings on the thermostat.  The units draw anywhere from .75 to 2.0 amps depending on whether you’re running the fridge only or the freezer too and the ambient temperature around the box.  The units weigh from 140 -160 pounds. 

You can use these on your boat, your dock, your remote cabin or in your own backyard as a backup.  Of course, these boxes aren’t cheap but if you need a margarita on the rocks, how much is too much?

3.5 Refrigerator – $3295.00
3.5 Refrigerator/Freezer – $3495.00
5.1 Refrigerator – $3795.00
5.1 Refrigerator/Freezer – $3995.00


About the author:

Zuzana Prochazka

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Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
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