The first thing any off-gridder will tell you when asked what’s involved in going off grid is “Reduce your power needs!!”. (Unless they think you are inherently lazy or a pussy, then the best advice they could offer would be “Don’t bother”.) Part of our power strategy was to convert a small chest freezer to a refrigerator. It it’s a great way to reduce our power consumption. Our old fridge consumed about 0.8 kWh per day. Not bad when compared to most fridges out there. The new setup consumes about 0.15 kWh day. Pretty substantial power savings for our small(ish) off-grid home setup. The way we accomplished the conversion was pretty simple, buy a temperature controller. Nothing has to be modified on the freezer itself. Stick a temperature probe inside the freezer, plug it into the controller, then plug the controller into the wall. Set the desired temperature and you are done.
The first controller I bought was designed and built by another off-gridder from scratch. Pretty cool, the guy even makes his own printed circuit boards in his units. But my early production unit just didn’t last, and started screwing up. It would click a bunch of times and then set the ‘desired’ temperature to 0 degrees. That means frozen food in the ‘fridge’. Not good. Worse than the frozen eggs and milk and the long unscheduled drive to town is ‘that look’ that I mentioned in a previous post.
So I picked up a couple STC 1000 controllers for about $35 each. One for the fridge and one for the freezer. These require a bit of wiring, but nothing too difficult. A good video on the web shows how to wire it properly in great detail. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30TvX1Zz1-Y#t=488) Note that these units can trigger both cooling and heating devices with one controller. I’m only interested in cooling for my purposes, so my wiring ended up simplified a bit. If they work out well, I’ll definitely get another when it’s time to get into chickens and an incubator.
Yep, that’s calfskin on the floor. It feels awesome on bare feet. So soft, warm and smooth. It’s like walking on babies.