Which Off Grid Refrigerator is Best for your Off Grid Home?

Which Off Grid Refrigerator is Best for your Off Grid Home?Living off grid and storing food will sometimes require the use of an off grid refrigerator.  Off grid living means that you have to watch your energy consumption and a standard refrigerator can gobble up huge amounts of energy.  The average is about 3000 watt hours for a typical refrigerator and freezer.  An energy efficient refrigerator can use much less energy; sometimes 1/3 or less energy, so it’s important to shop around.  Below, I’ve included seven off grid refrigerators that you can choose from along with their pros and cons.

7 Off Grid Refrigerator Options

1. Clay Pot Cooler

off grid refrigerator - clay pot cooler

Also known as a pot-in-pot refrigerator or a zeer pot, a clay pot cooler uses a technology that goes back thousands of years to ancient Egypt. This refrigeration technology uses two clay pots of different sizes, sand, water, and a cloth.  It’s constructed by putting the smaller clay pot into the larger one so that there’s a gap between the two.  The gap between the two pots is filled with wet sand and the whole thing is then covered with a wet cloth.  It uses the evaporation of the wet sand to cool the inner chamber by pulling the heat out of it.  If a simple DIY off grid refrigerator is what you’re looking for, this is it.


  • Inexpensive
  • Doesn’t require electricity


  • Small capacity
  • Have to keep adding water to the sand to maintain the evaporation.

2. Icebox / Cooler

off grid refrigerator - icebox cooler
via Rural King

Most of us have used or owned a cooler at some point in our lives.  They’re great for keeping food cold at picnics, trips to the beach, sporting events, bbqs and all sorts of other outdoor events.  Generally people who live on the grid don’t use these for their everyday refrigeration needs, but they can be an option for off grid homes.  If you can get a well-insulated cooler, it could keep your food fresh for up to 5 days.  If you have access to ice, you could also add some ice to your cooler for some additional cooling.


  • Inexpensive
  • Portable
  • Doesn’t require electricity


  • Not able to freeze food.
  • Small capacity
  • Doesn’t maintain an even temperature.

Related:  27 Ways to Make a Living Off the Grid

3. Thermoelectric Cooler

off grid refrigerator - thermoelectric cooler
via Walmart

Thermoelectric coolers are often used by truck drivers and others who need to keep their food cool while on the road for long periods of time.  These work by using a DC-powered electric plate to cool the unit to 30 degrees below the current room temperature.


  • They don’t use much power
  • Don’t need any ice


  • Small capacity
  • Not able to freeze food

4. Danfoss Compressor Refrigerator / Freezer

off grid refrigerator - danfoss compressor
via Best Refrigerator Central

A Danfoss Compressor fridge can run on either AC or DC and uses a multi-voltage compressor.  It’s energy efficient because it doesn’t have a separate compressor.  This type of fridge can also run for a few days in a row using a 12 Volt battery which makes it a viable off grid refrigerator option.


  • Doesn’t use a lot of power


  • Smaller capacity than a standard refrigerator
  • These are expensive; can range between $800 to $1000.

5. Chest Freezer Conversion

off grid refrigerator - chest freezer conversion
via David Jackmanson

A converted chest freezer is possibly the most common off grid refrigerator used in off grid homes.  It’s most likely due to their large capacity, energy efficiency, and low cost.  Set up is fairly easy as well.  You just need a chest freezer and a control unit that makes sure the temperature stays cold without freezing the contents


  • Holds a lot of food
  • Inexpensive
  • Energy efficient; these use a fraction of the energy a standard fridge uses.  Part of that is because of the way it’s built and the fact that cold air sinks.  When you open these, the cold air doesn’t escape as much as a standard upright refrigerator.


  • It’s harder to find food.  Food is piled on top of each other making it harder to find things.  Adding baskets can help with organizing the food on the top and bottom.
  • Condensation can become an issue so it’s recommended to dry out the unit with a towel 2 to 4 times a month.

6. Propane Refrigerator

off grid refrigerator propane refrigerator
via Amazon

Also common in off grid homes are propane refrigerators.  As the name suggests, they run on propane gas, but there are also some which can additionally run on AC or DC power.  What’s interesting about these types of fridges is they use heat in order to cool their contents.


  • Can store a lot of food like a standard refrigerator.
  • Good at keeping food both cold or frozen.


  • Propane can get expensive.  Some propane refrigerators can use up to a gallon of propane a day.
  • The pilot light can occasionally go out.

7. Solar Refrigerator

off grid solar refrigerator

A solar powered refrigerator can be any off the shelf refrigerator that’s powered by your home’s solar energy power.  Because solar energy has become so much more affordable in recent years, this can be a great option for your off grid home.  Just be sure to choose an energy efficient refrigerator.


  • Energy efficient
  • Large capacity because you can use a standard refrigerator


  • There’s an initial setup cost associated with setting up a solar energy system.  This can be expensive but over time, you’ll end up saving thousands of dollars because you’ll be creating your own energy.


So we’ve provided a wide range of off grid refrigerator options to choose from.  If you know of any other off grid refrigeration methods, please let us know and if you’ve tried any of these options listed in this post, let us know how it has worked for you in the comments below.

Want to read more?  Check out other related content from our site:

How Does a Composting Toilet Work?

5 Off-Grid Internet Options with Pros and Cons

Off-grid Living Inspiration: Jill Redwood


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