Off Grid Appliances
Off grid or being electrically self sufficient does not mean you have to rough it, nor does it mean that your appliances need look like they were designed in the 50's or earlier. It does mean that you require the most energy efficient and environmentally safe products available.
An normal 120V EnerStar rated refrigerator as you have in your home in the city will use about 60% of the power you need to run the average cottage. The hyper efficient alternatives cost considerably more that the fridge available from the Big Box store, however the power to supply that cheap fridge will cost you at least $2000 more in overhead costs (solar panel, batteries and possibly a larger charge controller) than off grid alternatives.
Enerstar frost free refrigerators rarely have frost within them. This means the defrost cycle must be doing more than an adequate job. If you insist on a 120V powered refrigerator consider having the heater portion of the defrost connected to a manual switch if you can find someone to take on the task. If nature is playing nice and you have lots of extra power you can always flip the switch to allow a full defrost cycle if you don't want to do it in the old fashioned way.
Appliances have changed for the better over time. As much as I dislike our disposable society, the justification of upgrading for efficiency, the comes much quicker when cost of your power ranges from $0.75 to $1.25 per kilowatt hour (off-grid maintenance and and investment write-down) quickly justifying the purchase of a more efficient appliance. The power consumption of electric appliances isn't the only area of improvement. New propane appliances have improved significantly. New refrigerators use up to 60% less fuel than older models. Something to consider against the fact that propane has gone up by up to 500% within the last five years.
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