How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run A Fridge?

By Kami Turky

Last Updated:

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, refrigerators are responsible for around 32% of your monthly electricity consumption.

For this reason, many home owners are deciding to take their fridge off-grid by installing high-quality solar panes.

But, how many solar panels does it take to run a fridge?

Well, the short answer is it can take anywhere from one and up to three 200-Watt solar panels depending on the size, model, power efficiency, geographical location, roof tilt, and many more.

If you are looking for a more accurate answer, then you are just in the right place.

In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide to help you know exactly how many solar panels do you need to power your refrigerator.

Also, at the end of the guide, we created a table that contains the most common refrigerators’ sizes and how much solar power you need to power them.

So without further ado, let’s jump right into the first step.

Step 1: Calculate your Refrigerator Power Consumption (kWh/Month)

The power consumption of the fridge depends on many factors such as:

  • Size
  • Energy Efficiency (A++, A+, A, B, C, D, E)
  • Run time
  • Temperature of your fridge
  • And many more

And in order to accurately calculate how many solar panels do you need to power a fridge, first, you need to calculate how much energy does it consume per month.

And in this section, we will tell you exactly how to calculate your refrigerator monthly power consumption, so you can accurately size your solar panel system.

A. Calculate your Fridge Hourly Energy Consumption (kWh)

The easiest way to do so is to check the fridge electrical specifications table near the power cord.

This table contains very useful information about your fridge such as Wattage, Amp, Volt, Frequency, and many more.

Now, all you need to do is to check the WATTAGE section, which is how much energy your fridge uses per hour.

The average fridge will use anywhere from 100 to 400 Watts per hour.

B. Calculate your Daily Power Consumption (kWh)

Refrigerators job is to keep your food fresh by slowing down the growth of bacteria.

Thus, the fridge has to be active 24/7, otherwise, the food in it can go bad.

Luckily, fridges are manufactured with something called “duty cycle”.

Without overwhelming you with many technical details, this means that on average, your fridge will run only for 8 hours/Day.

The next step in calculating how much power does a fridge consumes is to calculate the daily power consumption.

Our fridge consume 130 Watts per hour, so the daily usage will be:

how to calculate fridge daily power consumption

C. Calculate your Monthly Power Consumption (kWh/Month)

Now All we need to do is to multiply the number we got by 30.4 (average days in a month).

how to calculate fridge monthly power consumption

In other words, powering your refrigerator costs you at least $50/Year assuming that your kWh rating is only 13 cents.

Now, after knowing how much energy you need to power your fridge each month, it’s about time for the next step, which is calculating your area solar efficiency.

Step 2: Calculate your Area Solar Efficiency

Not all solar installations are equal. For instance, a 1-kW solar array in Texas will produce way more energy than the one in Alaska where sunlight is scarce.

For this reason, it’s important to figure out your area solar efficiency, which is how much energy a 1-kW solar array produces throughout the year.

Luckily, you can easily do this using the PVWatts tool.

PVWatts is a calculator created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

This tool will provide you with an accurate estimation of how much electricity will your solar panel produce throughout the year.

how to fill in PVWatts information

Here is how to use the PVWatts calculator:

  1. Enter your address and click Go
  2. Click Go to system info
  3. Fill in your information
  4. Scroll down and fill in your electricity rate
  5. Click Go to PVWatts results
  6. Voila!

Here are the results for a 1-kW solar array system in my location:

PVWatts results for 1-kW solar array

Step 3: Size Your System

As you can see, the total power output of my 1-kW system varies depending on the month.

And unlike air conditioners, the fridge should be running all year long.

Thus, it’s important to make sure that the solar array will provide your fridge with enough energy during all year months.

For this reason, we need to calculate the average monthly power output of the system which will be:

a 1-kW solar array monthly power output

As mentioned before, our 130 Watt fridge requires 31.616 kWh/Month, and a 1-kW solar array in my location provides around 116.6 kWh/Month.

Therefore, our system size should be:

solar array size to power a 130 Watt fridge

This means that I need to install a 0.271-kW solar system or around 1.35 solar panels to power my refrigerator.

Related Article: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Run Air Conditioner?

How Many Solar Panels To Run Different Fridges?

Fridge WattageMonthly kWh UsageSolar System SizeNumber of 200-Watt Solar PanelsYearly Savings ($0.13 per kWh)
50 Watt12.16 kWh0.086-kW0.43$19
100 Watt24.32 kWh0.172-kW0.86$38
120 Watt29.184 kWh0.21-kW1.05$45.5
150 Watt36.48 kWh0.26-kW1.3$57
170 Watt41.344 kWh0.29-kW1.45$64.5
200 Watt48.64 kWh0.35-kW1.75$76
220 Watt53.504 kWh0.38-kW1.9$83.5
250 Watt60.8 kWh0.43-kW2.15$95
Number of solar panels needed to power different sizes of refrigerators

Related Article: How Long Does it Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves?


1. Can you Run a Fridge on Solar Power?

Yes, solar panels are more than capable of powering your fridge. In fact, many people all around the world are using solar power as their main source of energy for their homes.

Also, companies now are you don’t have to buy batteries, you can simply opt for a grid-tied solar system that uses your public utility as a free battery.

2. Can a 100 Watt Solar Panel Power a Fridge?

Well, it really depends on the size of your fridge.

For instance, a 100-Watt fridge needs at least 172-Watt solar panel.

However, if you need to power a 45-Watt portable refrigerator, then a 100-Watt solar panel will do it.

For more information, check this table of the most common fridges’ sizes and how many solar panels to power them.

3. What Size Solar Panel Do I Need to Power a 12V Fridge?

The average 12V fridge have a wattage rating of 45 Watt/Hours.

This means that it require a 100-Watt solar panel will be able to power it.

Last Words

In this article, we provided you with all the information you need to accurately calculate how much energy do you need to power a refrigerator.

Further, we created a table of how many solar panels you need to run the most common fridges in the makret.

In the end, we really hope you found this article helpful.

Do you have any solar question?

If so, please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products.He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations.When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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