Off-grid Refrigeration – a cheap and effective way

Okay. I have finally decided to develop an improved refrigeration system. Here’s what I’ve been using up until now.

Basically, it’s just a stock pot with a wet t-shirt thrown over it for evaporative cooling. And filled with well water, which is actually between 48 – 50 degrees. So it keeps it pretty decent for vegetables but it’s not good enough for long-term storage of perishables. I need to get the temperature down to about 40. Or lower

Since I want it to be off grid I’m going to have to make it 12 volts so I don’t have to run my inverter.

And using a regular compressor driven refrigeration unit just uses too much power for the solar panels I have .

So I’m going to use thermoelectric cooling devices. Peltier chips. What they do is when you apply voltage one side gets hot and the other side gets cold. They can lower the ambient temperature by anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. So since I’m only needing to go 10 to 20 degrees, I should be able to accomplish this. I could buy thermoelectric coolers pre-made but they won’t fit what I want to do. Because they only lower the ambient temperature, if it’s 90 degrees out it will only go down to maybe 60 degrees. But if I can submerse it in my well water, and change the well water regularly, the ambient temperature would effectively be 50 degrees. Which means I could get down to 40 with no problem anytime of the year. And also during the winter I could still use the storage system and just use the temperature outside to refrigerate like I have been doing. So I have two peltier chips on order. They’re not that expensive. About six bucks a piece. One is just for backup. I’m only going to use one and I’m going to put it on top of that stock pot so the cold is on the inside and the heat dissipation is on the outside and then a fan blows the cold around inside and I will insulate the pot outside.

The basic parts. An old peltier chips is shown on the right.

I could have used just a store bought cooler and cut holes in it to put the peltier unit inside but I like the idea of the metal container. I think that it will hold the cold longer when it’s not running if it’s insulated from the outside. And also I will submerse the bottom into the cold water. I may just get a round cooler and put put the pot inside the round cooler. And have the benefits of both.

In addition I plan on something that almost all of the inexpensive thermoelectric coolers for sale, don’t do. I ordered a cheap $5 temperature control module, that runs on 12 volts and very low power usage, that can sense the temperature inside and turn on the thermoelectric unit when it needs to be and turn it off when it doesn’t need to be on.

Most of the $50 – $70 thermoelectric coolers don’t have thermostat control. They just get cold or if your reverse the voltage they get hot to warm things up. They don’t get real hot, but you can keep food warm in them too. So my unit will actually be able to do that too if I want to heat it up, but I can’t imagine why I want to do that. But here’s the unit that I ordered.

Temperature Control Module

It’ll be here tomorrow. So I’ll update this post as I complete it. I have to cut a small square hole in the top of the lid of my stock pot. Mount the heat sinks on either side of the chip. Mount fans on top of that.

The fan on the bottom is to circulate the cold air. The fan on the top is to dissipate the heat and if it works out, I may just develop a way to circulate water through the heat part. So I don’t have to run the fan and just use a gravity-fed water to circulate through and cool the top heat sink. The better the heat is is disappated the colder the other side gets.

I always have to try to limit the amount of electricity I use, otherwise I’m going to have to go buy more batteries and more solar panels.

Because of my years doing computer repair, I have plenty of heat sinks and fans from old computers. So I don’t have to purchase those.

The drawback? Peltier chips are not very efficient. (ie. power in for result produced). But since they use such little power the amount of power lost doesn’t matter. And a large compressor does much more than I need, so I wouldn’t be saving anything.

Oh, and by the way. Those peltier chips that take electricity and make heat and cold? They also work the other way around. If you make one side hot and the other side cold they produce electricity. Not very efficient but they make a product which is a pot with a peltier chip mounted on the bottom. When you put cool water into the pot and put it on a campfire it can charge a cell phone. I think the ones I saw were called PowerPots.

UPDATE:. He is the nearly complete refrigerator with the insulation out side. The insulation is not permanently attached yet. A little more testing but so far it works pretty good.

Public Land

Okay. I’ll get a little political here.

 Trump opens 1.4 million federal acres to hunters, anglers.

And this from the article:

“eliminating 7,500 regulations limiting access.’


He’s the worst fascist ever.

Look up the actual definition of fascist. (hint: it isn’t just someone who disagrees with you). And even the linked definition twists the real meaning, as was defined by the original Italian Fascisti Party of Mussolini, to cover the socialists of Hitler’s Germany, who at least originally weren’t even considered fascist. But both the Fascist Party and the National Socialist German Workers Party were horrible as all authoritarian socialists are.

Many in the press love calling Trump fascist. But he is the farthest thing from fascist. Fascists want government controls over people’s lives. Lots of regulations. A centralized autocratic government. Severe economic and social regimentation. Who is calling for these, I wonder.

Violent suppression of the opposition. And saying “hurtful” things on Twitter is not violent suppression of the opposition.

There is no right to not being offended. What is or is not offensive is ambiguous. Defined by the person observing.

Rioting to stop people who you disagree with from speaking on college campuses and attacking them if they show up. Attacking peaceful gatherings of people you disagree with while wearing a mask to keep from being identified committing assault. These are violent suppression of the opposition. If you look honestly at the situation in the country it is clear who is really much closer to fascism. The only thing these modern day fascists, who use the Orwellian name Anti-fascist, are missing, instead of nationalism they hate this nation and want forced globalism. Hell, even Hitler gave up on Nationalism when he started taking over lots of non-Germanic countries. He wanted globalism too, with him leading the way.

Teddy Roosevelt didn’t set aside public land to keep the public out. It was to let the public get out and enjoy the land.

It is great to see a president who does things for the people. Not against the people.

I looked forward to retirement at a young enough age to spend a year or two travelling from National Forest to the next National Forest camping. They always had the regulation that you can only camp in one spot for up to two weeks then you need to move like two hundred yards. That made sense to keep people from setting up permanent camps. But then, just when I was finally able to reach my dream of travelling the National Forests, President Obama decided that that was just too much freedom for the people. He dictated that you can only camp for a maximum of 30 days a year in any and all National forests. That means if I travel from Forest to Forest and spend just one week in each, I could only visit 4 National Forests a year. That is out of 155 National Forests.

Again, Woody Guthrie was wrong. This land wasn’t made for you and me.

And, of course, this is almost impossible to enforce. But the point is to force people to break the law.

As Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged;

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for me to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed or enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”

The Beaver Pond

I took Lily for a walk today down to a branch of Pithole Creek. It is the closest creek to my cabin, maybe 15 or 20 minute walk, but I have never been to this spot before. When we reached the creek I was surprised how large it was. I’ll be going back to go fishing. We worked our way downstream and it suddenly got wider. Then much wider.

Beaver Lodge in center

It was a beaver pond.

This huge tree was a favorite target of the beavers.

Chewed tree with dam in back

The dam looks pretty old, but solid. And no freshly chewed trees seems to indicate the beavers are gone.

Plastic Siding

My plans for making siding boards for the shed fell through when I was unable to get the tools and the hand tools I have didn’t work well. Also, since my jeep’s suspension is pretty well shot I don’t want to haul too much weight, so buying boards was out. So I used plastic sheeting.

Won’t last long but at least it keeps the tools inside dry.