For good reason, propane-fueled refrigerators are the way to go for off-grid refrigeration.
They’re dependable and efficient in situations where electricity isn’t available.
How does a propane refrigerator work?
Propane fridges can also come in handy when you’re traveling to your dream vacation spots, camping at famous campgrounds, or spending time in any other location where electricity isn’t available.
But how does a propane refrigerator work, and how effective is it at keeping things cool?
Let us take a closer look:
In a nutshell, propane coolers cool the air by triggering a series of chemical reactions.
In fact, the entire cooling process is driven by the reactions of hydrogen, ammonia, and water.
Here’s how it all works in a nutshell:
1. A propane flame heats a chamber containing an ammonia and water solution to start the cooling cycle. Continue to heat until the mixture boils.
2. The mixture of ammonia and water then vaporizes into steam due to the heat. Through a pipe, the ammonia gas escapes to the condenser chamber. It will revert to a liquid state here.
3. The ammonia (now a liquid) goes into the evaporator as the action moves to the evaporation chamber. It will react with the hydrogen gas in this location.
4. Ammonia and hydrogen react when they come into touch. The heat will be successfully absorbed by this chemical reaction. The contact will essentially cause ammonia to evaporate, thus removing heat from the ammonia-hydrogen mixture. This is what decreases the temperature within the fridge, allowing it to cool the food you’ve stored within.
5. The process is ongoing, and ammonia will eventually transform back into gas.
6. The ammonia, along with hydrogen gas, will then mix with water once more.
7. The ammonia is now dissolving in water and forming a solution, while the hydrogen gas is returning to the evaporator.
8. The cooling process has been initiated, and the propane refrigerator will be cold enough to keep your food from spoiling soon.
Quick Tip: Propane refrigerators are commonly referred to as absorption refrigerators since they chill by absorbing heat from propane fuel.
Is it true that propane refrigerators are efficient?
In most cases, a 12 cu. On a typical 20lb. propane tank, a foot. refrigerator can run for up to 13 days. 430,000 BTUs of energy are provided by a propane bottle (when full).
Please keep in mind that a 12 cu. A ft propane cooler uses about 1.5 lbs of propane. propane per day, equating to 1,400 BTUs of energy per hour (or 32,225 BTUs per day).
So if you had two of these bottles, you could easily keep the refrigerator running for 26 days.
As you might expect, actual consumption varies from unit to unit, with some smaller units using less than 1 pound. larger models can consume nearly 2 lbs. of propane per day.
In terms of price, while propane is priced differently across the country, the average price per gallon in many areas is between $1.50 and $3.00.
Even assuming higher propane prices where you live, you can run the fridge for $150 to $300 over the course of the year.
When you factor in the costs of general repairs and parts replacement, this is not a bad deal compared to the cost of running regular electric refrigerators, and it may even be less expensive than some solar refrigerators.
How long can a propane refrigerator be operated on a single tank?
If you’re wondering if your propane fridge can run continuously on a tank, the short answer is that it depends.
And there are a lot of them: the BTUs/hr your cooler consumes, the amount of your tank (the 20-pound propane tank is the most popular), whether you have other appliances connected to the tank (and their energy usage), and so on.
To give you an idea, modern 10- to 12-cubic-foot propane refrigerators use about 1.5 pounds of propane. (1,400 BTUs/hour) of propane each day
Since a 20 pound. When a propane tank is full, it carries between 4 and 12 gallons of propane (Value in BTUs= 4.5 95500 = 430000), and it will run for 430000/1400×24) = 13 days or 307 hours.
A 30 pound tank with a capacity of 649,980 BTUs will run continuously for 649,980/1400×24) = 19 days or 464 hours.
Of course, if you have a smaller refrigerator, your tank should last longer, but larger refrigerators will run out of propane sooner.
These are only estimations, and it’s crucial to remember that the fridge’s efficiency (as determined by the settings and how well it’s adjusted) will have a considerable impact on run duration.
Questions about how a propane refrigerator works
Is it safe to use propane refrigerators?
While propane refrigerators are not inherently dangerous, there are a few of safety considerations associated with their use.
Depending on the size of the space where you want to place it, one of the preventative actions worth considering is whether or not to vent the refrigerator.
Venting propane freezers is particularly crucial in motorhomes and smaller houses, as it usually necessitates an intake vent and an exit exhaust.
Venting, on the other hand, may not be required if your refrigerator is to be installed in a wide room or open area.
While we’re on the subject of safety, remember to follow all other propane safety guidelines.
Check your propane tanks for leaks before using them, and make sure you don’t run out of propane (if a gas line/valve is open when your supply runs out, propane may seep out when you replenish).
Is it possible to travel with a propane refrigerator turned on?
Yes, indeed! There’s nothing stopping you from driving with the propane refrigerator turned on if the situation calls for it; you might, for example, want to remain warm by operating your RV’s heating system while on the road.
However, you must exercise caution because doing so can be dangerous.
Consider what might happen if an accident occurs: the odds of propane leaking are great, and you risk a fire or explosion.
You also have to put up with the inconvenient requirement in some zones of stopping to turn propane off before entering gas stations (and stopping again to switch it on after leaving a station).
Propane refrigerators, which may be powered by propane rather than electricity, are ideal for off-grid residences, campers, recreational vehicles (RVs), and caravans.
These refrigerators can also save your food in locations where natural disasters have struck, knocking out power for an extended period of time.
You now have a better understanding of how it works, which should aid you in making the best selection for your needs.