can I have a fridge that cools only to 65, not colder?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by melinda, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    se AZ
    I'm wondering - without fooling with my own refrigerator - if there is such a thing as a thermostat on a refrigerator that will have it stay at about 65 F or warmer. Sure it's cold here now, but over the summer I have some supplies that need to be cooler than 90-100 degrees! We're off grid/solar/wind, and not air conditioned, and it gets real hot. I don't have room in the regular fridge for everything, plus these things don't need to be COLD just need to not get above about 75 for extended lengths of time! Plus, I don't think our solar/wind system will host 2 refrigerators.

    Digging a root cellar is not an option, by the way.
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    How about a dc powered swamp cooler? You could just have a room that is cooled down to keep stuff in (including hot people). You can buy thermostats for the coolers.
     

  3. HarleysMom

    HarleysMom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    158
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2004
    A few months back we were discussing a way they keep foods cooler in the desert in the middle east somewhere. They have one clay pot inside of another bigger one. The space between the pots is filled with sand and kept wet. The top is covered with a cloth and it is like evaporative cooling for your food. I tried the link to the site that described it, but the site wasn't there. Don't know if it will keep it at 65 degrees but it would be cooler than the outside air if the pots are kept in the shade.
     
  4. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

    Messages:
    11,456
    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    NW Pa./NY Border.
    They have those 12v cooler that plug into car lighters that keep items 25 - 40 * cooler than the ambient temperature. That might do what you need to an not pull much electricity.
     
  5. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    se AZ
    thanks for these good ideas - I'll look into the 12v cooler things first. The clay pot idea is good except for finding appropriate sized containers - like, the size of a large cooler or small refrigerator. At least I have a while to plan, right?

    My only problem with the electric swamp cooler idea - well, I have a couple... The room I am using the store these things isn't going to be easy to cool. Plus, water is a fairly precious resource as well, and those coolers use a lot of water! I'd rather use the swamp cooler to cool me, too, and not try to use it to cool this store room! I'm hoping to find a better way to spend my resources (solar/wind/water). Wonder if I could devise a swamp cooler refrigerator-cabinet type thing...? At least the cooled water would be focused on a small area.

    thanks again!
     
  6. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Messages:
    2,173
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pell City, AL
    What is your water supply? I'm sure you can't keep these items (whatever they may be) wet, but can you not use your water supply to keep them cooler? I'm thinking it can be done without using evaporation so that you can not "waste" the water. Rodale published a book a long time ago titled Build it Better Yourself. I think that's the name, anyhow. It's packed up. In the section for food storage, they have built a large wooden box that holds a galvanized wash tub. Within the box, surrounding the wash tub, is a coil of water pipe. The main line of the house wraps around this tub, that is in the basement and heavily insulated, and then goes on to the rest of the house.

    I'm also thinking of something like a "spring-house" as mentioned in the Back to Basics book where water from a well or spring runs through a small building built of rocks and/or concrete that keeps things cool. If you have to collect rain water, could you not seal up these items and suspend them in your storage tanks?

    Water is almost always several degrees cooler than the surrounding air. I'd try to harness this natural occurance first. No energy needed or wasted. Even if you have to change out water in a bucket fairly often, you could use it to water plants.
     
  7. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    se AZ
    More good ideas, thanks. We have a well. I'm trying to "preserve" my soaping oils and fragrances from the ravages of desert heat! Everything seemed to go rancid so quickly this past year in the heat, since we aren't air conditioned. Since we are off the grid, just adding a regular refrigerator when the oils don't need to be that cold seems pretty dang wasteful! I was thinking a warmer refrigerator might use less energy.

    Actually, another thread popped up about converting chest freezers to refrigerators and I learned that a converter-thermostat is sold for freezers that has a range up to 80 degrees! Of course, I'll still have to balance the electric load on that, so a water-cooled cabinet also sounds pretty dang good.

    thanks again!
     
  8. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,026
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Location:
    WV
    Also, consider checking homebrew supply stores for conversion kits, since they sell stuff to equip a regular fridge to hold a keg, they might have what you want (thermostats) to control a fridge for your purposes.
     
  9. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    I've had one of the dc powered chest cooler/heater things. Unless they have vastly improved in the last few years they pull way too much power for off grid use. I ended up giving mine away as I had no use for it. I switched to a propane fridge and was much happier.
     
  10. melinda

    melinda Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    47
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    se AZ
    good to know - thanks!

    If only those Sun Danzer chest refrigerators weren't so dang expensive - ~$1000! They are meant for off-grid use. We have a Conserv for our regular use, also very energy efficient. But none of them has much room for storage! I guess if it's cheap to buy, it's expensive to run and vice versa?

    I am hoping that maybe using one of those home brew thermostats might lower the energy usage. I'm waiting til much later in the year to test this theory, though.
     
  11. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Location:
    tn
    Try this book -- Handy Farm Devices == has several cooler type setups for non electric use -- was first published in 1909 but you can get it anywhere.