Which Power Stations Are The Best As Backup Power For Refrigerators & Freezers?
One reason people spend money on portable power stations is because they want to be ready for power outages.
If a big storm comes in and your house or camper loses electricity, you don’t want the food in your fridge and freezer to go to waste.
I know this well because my mother-in-law lives in California and deals with power outages regularly, and she bought the EcoFlow Delta Max 2000 with a solar panel (click to view on Amazon) based on my recommendation.
It has been more than enough to cover her needs and she doesn’t have to worry about food going bad anymore.
Sure, a fridge and freezer will stay cold for a while and the food won’t go bad immediately. But long power outages are becoming more and more common due to fires and bad weather.
So what should you think about when choosing a power station which main purpose will be to power your fridge/freezer? That’s what I want to answer in this article, together with my recommendations.
As always, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.
Power Station Recommendations
I have set up a table with my recommendations that lists the most important specifications.
If you know what to look for when shopping for a power station, this table might be all you need.
If you don’t know what all of these numbers and ratings mean, scroll past the table and I’ll explain what you need to know. That’s where I’ll also recommend solar panels for all of the power stations in the table.
Which Is Your Favorite?
My personal favorite is the Bluetti AC200MAX because I see it as a great mix of everything I look for in a power station.
Here are my reasons:
- It doesn’t charge superfast with the included wall charger, but you can buy another AC charger and charge it twice as fast.
- It can handle a lot of solar input, and since that’s what I like to use to recharge my power stations it’s a necessity that it can handle a lot.
- Bluetti includes an MC4 to DC adapter, so it’s easy to plug solar panels in right out of the box without having to buy extra adapters and connectors.
- It has a 30A outlet, so I can plug my camper right into it
- It has two wireless charging pads, where I can charge my phone, earbuds, etc.
- The LiFePO4 batteries can go through 3500 cycles before being down to 80% capacity. That means it will last me years and still have the power to run my appliances for a long time.
What Specifications Matter When Choosing A Power Station For Backup Power?
If you take a look at a power station listing, there are a lot of numbers and ratings being thrown at you.
The most important thing is that the power station can power the refrigerator, meaning that the watts it is capable of outputting exceeds what the appliance requires.
The second most important thing is the battery capacity, since that is what decides how long we can power the appliance.
Another thing, maybe not the third most important but still important, is to know whether solar panels are included with the power station.
Alright, so how do we use that information when shopping for a power station? I think the best way is to use an example.
Let’s take a look at the popular Bluetti AC200P power station (click to view on Amazon).
Simply by looking at the title of the listing, we’re being told what matters the most.
- 2000Wh LiFePO4 Battery
- Six 2000W AC Outlets (4800W peak)
- Solar panel not included
The first rating on the list, 2000Wh, tells us how big the battery capacity is. The LiFePO4 is the battery chemistry used.
2000Wh (2kWH) is the number we use when calculating how long the battery will last when powering a specific device.
The 2000W AC rating tells us how powerful the inverter inside the AC200P is.
The inverter converts DC battery power to AC power, 12V to 110V/120V, and is a necessity if you want to power any electronic that use a regular 15A plug.
Without the inverter the AC200P would only be able to power 12V fridges and unless you knowingly have purchased a 12V fridge, the one in your home will run on 120V power.
The inverter is not 100% efficient, but usually around 80-90%.
If we use the AC200P power station above as an example, it means that you’ll be able to use 1700Wh of the total 2000Wh, assuming it has a 85% efficiency rate. That is a rough estimate.
It’s also good to know that even though they’re often referred to as solar generators, solar panels are usually not included unless clearly stated on the product page.
I do recommend pairing your power station with a solar panel, so you have a way to recharge the battery during power outages.
A backup gas generator can also be used to charge a power station, but then you need to make sure it’s a generator that’s powerful enough for the battery charger.
We have a WEN 56203i gas inverter generator (click to view on Amazon) as an extra backup power source, in case we can’t charge a power station with solar or a power station fails.
Solar Panel Recommendations
I’ve made a table that lists a couple of solar panels, with their voltage and amperage listed.
Beneath the table, I’m going to list a couple of things you need to know when connecting solar panels to power stations.
Note that even if there is a checkmark by “Compatible with” and your power station model, you might have to buy an extra adapter if your model didn’t include an MC4 to DC adapter. I’ll talk more about this further down in this article.
Also, the “Compatible with” is based on if you connect a single panel. If you connect two or more panels in series it can make it compatible or not compatible with some models.
For extension cables, I recommend the Geosiry Twin Wire solar panel extension cables (click to view on Amazon).
Get the shortest and lowest gauge possible for your situation for the most efficiency.
Power station limitations
When choosing a solar panel for a power station, there are a few things you need to know.
All of the power stations I have listed in this post have built-in solar charge controllers.
The solar charge controller regulates the electricity produced by the solar panels and makes sure the battery doesn’t get overcharged or given a voltage it can’t handle.
You cannot use two solar charge controllers, so you should never try to connect a solar panel that also has a charge controller.
What input ratings does your power station have? The input voltage range is the most important, as it won’t accept a solar panel that outputs a voltage too high or too low.
If we use the Oukitel P2001 Solar Generator as an example, the input limitations reads “12-48V, 15A, 500W Max”.
This means that the solar panel(s) we connect cannot exceed 48V, but it has to output at least 12V.
The voltage usually refers to the open-circuit voltage, but the optimum operating voltage also more sense since that’s what the panel outputs under load.
The 15A limit tells us how many amps the solar charge controller inside of the power station can pass on to the battery.
With most power stations, you can exceed this a little bit, let’s say to 20A in this case. But the charge controller will only pass on 15A.
The 500W max is the highest input wattage it can reach, that would be equal to about 15A at 33 volts.
Does it mean you can’t connect more three 200W panels since that would exceed 500W?
No, you’re actually going to have to connect more than 500W worth of solar panels to get close to the 500W input, since solar panels aren’t 100% efficient and a 100W panel usually produces around 70-80W.
You can connect more than one of the panels in the table above to most power stations, but I am not going to dive into that in this article.
If you have questions about this please leave a comment and tell me which power station model you have and what type of panels/setup you’re planning.
Of course we also need to make sure that the solar panel(s) use a connector that we can connect to the input on the power station.
If it doesn’t, we’re going to need additional adapters and connectors to make the connection.
Three of the power stations on the first table above include an MC4 to DC adapter to make it easy to connect compatible panels, here are the adapters you need for the other brands if you’re buying panels with MC4 connectors:
Note that the MC4 connectors on all of these are female, this is important since the solar panels I recommend above that use MC4 connectors have a positive MC4 male connect and a negative MC4 female connector.
- Jackery (8mm/8020 input): MC4 to 8mm adapter (click to view on Amazon) – This is an adapter that includes an extra 8020 connector which is what Jackery uses on its latest power stations.
- EcoFlow (XT60 input): MC4 to XT60 adapter (click to view on Amazon) – Made by EcoFlow. They used to include these but don’t anymore.
- Goal Zero (8mm & Anderson): Either an MC4 to 8mm adapter or an MC4 to Anderson adapter works. The 8mm input on the Goal Zero should only be used when connecting up to 200W of solar panels though, and the Anderson input should be used for solar configurations larger than that. Also, note that you’re going to have to change the orientation of the connectors on the Anderson adapter to match the Goal Zero. This is easy to do.
If anything is unclear about anything of this, please leave a comment and let me know what type of solar setup you’re considering and I’ll help you as soon as possible.
How Much Power Does A Residential Fridge & Freezer Use?
This is going to depend on which fridge and freezer model you have.
The size, age, capacity, and other features affects the power consumption of a fridge/freezer.
Most fridges use between 700-1800Wh per day, some will use less, some more.
If you look inside your refrigerator you should be able to find a sticker with a model number. This is usually where it lists the required power supply as well.
It might read “AC115V 60Hz 12 Amps”. This means that the fridge requires electricity from a regular 15A or 20A receptacle that can output at least 12 amps. It doesn’t tell us how much electricity it uses per hour or day.
Some newer fridges do tell you how many kWH they use per day, and that helps a lot when calculating how long a power station can power a specific model.
Fridges and freezers go through cycles, which means that they’re not going to draw a constant wattage.
They’re going to be using the most power when the compressor is on and cooling down, but when they reach a certain temperature they will be using close to no electricity.
That adds to the difficulty of calculating how much power a refrigerator uses, and for the most accurate number you need to track the power consumption for at least 24 hours.
The easiest way to find out how much your specific fridge uses is to get a KillA-Watt electricity usage monitor (click to view on Amazon).
Plug the Kill-A-Watt in, set it to show kWH, then plug your fridge in and leave it for 24 hours. After 24 hours, it will tell you how many kWH it has used. 1kWH is 1000Wh.
How Can I Make The Battery Last Longer?
Limit how many times you and your family open the fridge and freezer everyday
Every time it’s opened, a lot of the cold air escapes and warm air takes its place.
Let everybody in your household know this to not waste energy by opening the fridge very often or for very long.
You can also consider purchasing a 12V fridge, like this model by BougeRV (click to view on Amazon).
It can be either a fridge/freezer or just a fridge, and it uses less power over 24 hours than most residential fridges.
It won’t hold as many items as a residential fridge, but it can be a way to store the most crucial items for longer.
Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions.