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Can a Solar Panel Run a Camping Fridge

Are you a frequent traveler who uses a camping fridge for preserving goods on the move? 

If so, you may have felt the necessity of a constant power supply to run your fridge. That’s where a solar panel comes handy. 

You may wonder, can a solar panel run a camping fridge? Yes, it is totally possible. Most camping fridges don’t consume high-power like a regular refrigerator. 

The key is to do it correctly, and in this article we’re going to explain how. Without further ado, let’s dive in!  

Related Read: How to Choose a Camping Generator for Your Next Trip

Is It Okay To Use Solar Panel To Run A Camping Fridge

Absolutely, it’s totally fine to use a solar panel to run your camping refrigerator. A solar panel turns sunlight into electricity using special cells. These cells make direct current (DC) electricity. 

Camping fridges need a different kind of electricity called alternating current (AC) to work. An inverter changes the DC from the solar panel into AC, which powers portable fridges.

If you set everything correctly and have the right stuff, solar panels are a great alternative. Just make sure the solar panel you use is big enough and can provide enough power for your fridge.

Camping Fridge Power: Solar Panel Compatibility

Using solar panels to power your camping fridge? You must understand how much power your fridge uses. 

Since fridges vary in power needs, we’ve created a handy table showing average watts produced by different solar panels and typical camping fridge consumption.

Type of Solar PanelHow Many Watts the Panel ProducesPower Consumption of Camping Fridge
Portable Solar PanelsBetween 60 and 200<100
Residential Solar Panels250-350<100
Camping Fridges w/ Built-inAround 100<100

Most premium camping fridges like BougeRV CRPRO30 portable fridge comes with 12V, and 36 to 45 watts power consumption rate. Let’s explain how you can charge a camping fridge! 

Things Needed for a Solar Power System

When setting up a solar power system, you need a few important things. The solar panel itself is one part. Here are the others: 

Battery: 

It stores the electricity made by the solar panels and gives it to the inverter when it’s needed. The battery handles the solar panel’s voltage and provides enough power for the fridge.

Charge Controller: 

This controls the voltage from the solar panels to stop the battery from getting too charged. It also makes sure the energy from the panels is used well.

Inverter:

Like we talked about, the inverter changes the solar panels’ DC electricity into AC electricity. This kind of electricity can be used for things like portable fridges.

How To Run A Camping Fridge With Solar Panel

Running your camping fridge using solar power is easier than you might think. Below is a step-by-step guide to run a 12V bougeRV camping fridge with bougeRV solar panels. 

Consider these steps to set it up:

Step 1: Understand How Things Connect

Take a look at the solar panel system’s wiring diagram. This drawing shows how all the parts fit together. Knowing this helps you set everything up correctly.

Alt: Wiring diagram for 12V solar power system

Step 2: Connect the Battery, Charge Controller, and 12V Socket

  • Gather what you need: a deep-cycle battery, a charge controller, and a 12V socket.
  • Put things in place: Attach the charge controller and 12V socket close to the battery, where you can reach the connections easily.
  • Battery hookup: Link the plus (+) and minus (-) ends of the battery to the right spots on the charge controller.
  • 12V Socket hookup: Connect the plus (+) and minus (-) wires from the 12V socket to the charge controller. This powers the socket for your fridge.

Step 3: Attach the Solar Panel to the Charge Controller

  • Find the right spot: Set up the solar panel where it gets the most sunlight. Make sure it’s steady and facing the sun.
  • Wire it up: Connect the plus (+) and minus (-) wires from the solar panel to the charge controller.
  • Regulate the power (if needed): If your solar panel doesn’t have a regulator, put one between the panel and the charge controller. This tool stops the battery from getting overcharged.

Step 4: Plug in Your Fridge

  • Get the fridge ready: Make sure your camping fridge is clean and working well.
  • Use an inverter (if needed): If your fridge needs AC power, connect an inverter to the battery, following the instructions from the maker.
  • Connect the fridge: Plug your camping fridge into the 12V socket. If you’re using an inverter, plug the inverter into the socket first, and then connect the fridge to the inverter.
  • Give it a test: Turn on your camping fridge and keep an eye on how it works. Check if the battery is getting charged from the solar panel and if the fridge is running smoothly.

FAQs

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Run A Camping Fridge?

To power a 12V mini fridge during short trips, you’ll need 100–200 watts of solar panels. A 100W or 200W solar panel kit works well.

Based on tests, a 100W panel generates 300-500 watt hours daily, sufficient to match a fridge’s usage. Larger fridges or longer trips may need 200W.

What Is The Required Battery Size For A Portable Fridge?

To power a 12V camping fridge, a battery bank of 100-200 amp hours is recommended, providing 3-4 days of usage. Connect batteries in parallel to maintain 12V voltage while increasing capacity.

What Charge Controller Size Do I Need?

Consider using a 30A PWM charge controller for a 12V fridge setup. They can handle up to 400 watts of solar power in 12V systems. 

You can expand your solar array later with a 100W panel. If your setup is larger, go for an MPPT charge controller.

Conclusion

Portable fridges are popular among travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. Solar panels offer an eco-friendly way to power them. 

It depends on the fridge’s energy needs, available sunlight, and battery capacity. Use this sustainable option to reduce reliance on traditional power sources. 

Check out BougeRV camping refrigerators and solar panels for a perfect combination. 

Last Updated on August 13, 2023

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