How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Power a Refrigerator?

The quick answer is, 3 or 4 normal sized solar panels should be able to power your refrigerator. The long answer is, it depends on the power consumption of your fridge. The even longer answer is, if you are trying to rely mostly on solar power, you may want to take a good look at your appliances and replace them with more efficient ones.

This topic is covered in depth in a great book called Got Sun? Go Solar by Rex A Ewing and Doug Pratt.

I’ll excerpt some of the book here, where they deal with high powered, inefficient appliances and what to do about them:


You might want to examine how you use your electricity, since your house is probably full of energy sucking, devices and appliances. This is because electricity has traditionally been so cheap that manufacturers have had little incentive to incur the added expenses of engineering and producing energy sufficient products.

The biggies are obvious: refrigerators and freezers, air conditioning, forced-air heat, electric ranges, water heaters and clothes dryers. But there are also many little things we don’t usually consider that, taken as a whole, can make a big difference. Light bulbs, for instance. Every 60-watt incandescent bulb you replace with an equivalent compact fluorescent bulb using only 12 watts will save 0.048 kWh for each hour it’s turned on. If you switch out five light bulbs that burn an average of 5 hours per day, you can knock 36 kWh per month (1.20 kWh/day) off your electrical consumption. This is enough energy saving to run a reasonably efficient (note that I did not say “expensive super-efficient”), off the-shelf refrigerator 24/7 and still have a few kilowatts hours to spare at the end of each month.

How many electrical devices and appliances do you have around the house that come with heavy, black plus adapters? Those adapters or power cubes are actually rectifier used to convert high-voltage AC to low -voltage DC. You will find them on laptop computers and many peripherals; cell-phone charges and other chargers for portable device. TV cable boxes, lamps etc. They are also used internally in stereos computers, battery charges for portable tools, and so on. They all have one property in common: they draw power continuously- usually in the one- to four-watt range- for as long as they are plugged in, even if the power to the appliance is turned off. In fact, power companies don’t call them power cubes; they officially call them “power vampires.” How can you tell if you’re pet Vampire is using electricity? If you don’t have a usage meter to plug it in to-which is really the best way-simply touch it. If it’s warm, it’s using electricity.