Need Another Refrigerator?
Here Are Some Ideas for Non-Electric Refrigerators for Home, Cabin or Backup
By John Hohman
Absorption refrigerators, also known as gas refrigerators, LP gas fridges or propane gas fridges, are fridges that use LP gas to keep food cold. These fridges were invented in the early 1900s. They use no electricity and have no moving parts and are whisper-quiet.
Because of this, they may last as much as three times as long as an electric fridge. These fridges function the same as an RV refrigerator; however, they are designed to be free standing and have complete cabinets, instead of just doors.
They are designed to fit in with the rest of the kitchen appliances. This product shines in situations where electricity is a problem such as an off-grid home, remote cabin or cottage, and as an emergency back- up to existing refrigerators and freezers. Fridges of 8 cubic feet to 10 cubic feet can replace two good-sized ice chests. Propane fridges are reliable, safe and easy to use. Some of the most common brands on the market are: Diamond, Dometic, EZ Freeze, Crystal Cold, and Unique.
ABOUT THE REFRIGERATOR
Gas refrigerators are made in a two-door style as a refrigerator-freezer combination with sizes ranging from 8-cubic-feet all the way to 19-cubic-feet. Most refrigerators have a freezer, with sizes ranging from 1 cubic foot freezer compartment to an extravagant 4-cubic-feet freezer compartment and fridge compartments ranging from 7 cubic feet to 15 cubic feet. Whether there needs to be lots of space or just moderate space there are models and makes to fit.
A flame at the burner produces the heat that circulates the gas inside, which is an ammonia solution pressurized with hydrogen. There is a thermostat to control the temperature and gas flow. A thermocouple acts as a gas safety control. Should the flame blow out, the thermocouple will shut off the gas supply, preventing a gas leak. Gas fridges run on Liquid Petroleum (LP) or Natural Gas (NG). LP gas is the same gas that is used for most gas grills. The gas is purchased in a tank that can be found at convenience stores and most stores that sell grills. Gas refrigerators work exceedingly well, don’t operate on electricity and can be used almost anywhere. In addition, propane is also very portable and there are usually fill stations close to marinas, at gas stations and various other outlets. Propane refrigerators will consume from 1 to 1.5 pounds of gas a day depending on the size of refrigerator, which means that a 20-pound bottle will last approximately 15 days.
The gas hookup is the same as propane stove, hot plate or a gas grill. The temperature performance of these refrigerators will compare to an electric fridge. Taken care of, these units can easily provide a decade of economical, trouble-free and quiet operation. Although there are no moving parts, there is some maintenance involved. Maintenance is very simple and most repairs can be made in the field. A good manufacturer will provide a maintenance DVD along with the new refrigerator that shows how to maintain the refrigerator or makes it available free of charge.
Most units can be shipped to semi remote places very easily and personally taken home to any other location. Transportation for these refrigerators is easy since the weight ranges from 160 pounds to 280 pounds and can be manhandled by two people. This is nearly as light as a conventional electric fridge. They can be transported by any vehicle. They are often transported on a boat across the water to a camp. Some people even install them in houseboats! Many hunting camps are only accessible by airplane. Again, simply load the fridge into the plane and fly it into the camp.
FINDING THE RIGHT FRIDGE
Gas refrigerators can be purchased online or at stores all across the U.S. There are many options to choose from when shopping for an absorption type refrigerator. Since a person could be investing a few thousand dollars in this venture they will want to choose well. Begin the research on the Internet. This would help to become familiar with the different brands and types of fridges. Buyers should not forget to ask others who have bought gas refrigerators for recommendations. Often the best information comes from people who have owned these units or have had experience with them.
When looking at the product, take note of the workmanship. Although, to the casual observer, the differences from manufacturer to manufacturer are subtle, they can still be detected. Is it neatly done? Is it built sturdily? Lower prices may look attractive, but a close look and, a person may understand why the price is lower. And a person should not forget about service after the sale! Ask the dealer how they handle service problems. There may still be some refrigerators from Explorer and Cool Fun that are still operating. Both of these American companies are out of business because of operating and service problems. As with many products manufactured outside of the United States, service and warranty become a problem.
Search for a company that has proven itself. Make sure it comes with a good owner’s manual, which is expected, and look for certification. A few of the manufacturers offer various lengths of warranty. This is a good start, but find out how confidant the manufacturer is in their warranty and what is covered. Try to determine, by asking others, if they have had a warranty issue and how it was handled. In other words, how well does the manufacturer and dealers take care of their customers? When there is trouble, it’s nice to have a responsive company to fall back on. And, one last thought about certification. Certification means that another organization tested the refrigerator to see if it met certain, published, specifications. CSA certification is not required in the U.S., but it can provide a higher level of assurance for safety and performance; this certification is recognized in the U.S., but it is a requirement in Canada.