Propane Fridge ??

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Helena, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    north central Pennsylvania
    Have always thought about getting one. Just to be a little less dependent on the electric company. But the ones I see aren't as big as the "regular'" fridges we now have. If you have one what size is yours and do you find it large enough ?? Anything good or bad about them ?? could have gotten one for Free !! a while back but the people said that you needed to keep towels in the bottom of it because of the water dripping ?? ..There is one for sale in the paper today. What questions and what do I look for if I go to see it ? Any name better than another and is it a good idea ? Prices on a used one ?? Hubby isn't too interested in a propane fridge because the size....but if the price is right I could always just keep it...just in case !!
  2. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Northern California

    For those located beyond the grid propane appliances are not a bad choice. For the first 10 years on the homestead I had no refrigeration at all and got by OK. In some respects paying for the cold can be an unprofitable hassle.

    On the other hand, I finally did buy an old Serval gas fridge...what, maybe out of the '60's, but never used it. Never did get it operating before I landed in other hot water. My bride insisted on a refer and I bought a Sebir gas model. As you say it is smaller than the usual we are used to, but it has been adequet for the two of us. Very small camper size units are available, but I am talking about maybe 10 cubic feet units. Much smaller than the usual 19 Cu ft refer.

    The newer Serval is even better according to the appliance dealers (the gas company) but the price tag was a shocker. Same size as the Sebir and twice the price...but then I got a used Sebir.

    All of them that I know of (the newer ones) can be plugged in and use electric power or run on propane. Every once in a while they seem to slow down their cooling ability and need to be turned upside down or taken for a ride in the truck to stir them up. Then they operate well again. Another major difference from electric units is that when first starting them up it takes over night for them to cool down completely. Once there, no problem. The other feature that I do NOT like is they are designed to keep your food cool based upon cooling from 70 F. room temp. Put them out on a cold porch and mine seems to go into reverse and keep everything warm. My neighbor has an electric freezer he keeps out on his porch that keeps food frozen without problem. I tried that with the Sebir and had an unpleasant experience.

    One other positive is they seem to run forever since there is very little that can fail.

    My Sebir has never dripped drop one in 15 years. Sounds like your friend has a problem!

    The last problem is going propane does NOT make you less dependant, just dependant upon a different source. Another option is the super efficient electric refrigerators that operate off 12 or 24 volt systems. Then set up enough photovoltaic panels to operate. Maybe more independance, but they are pretty far upscale for me. Couldn't believe the prices!

    To get a handle on current prices call your local propane supplier. Most of them also sell gas appliances. Check out the new Serval and ask about prices. Gas fired freezer units are also available.


  3. peahigirl

    peahigirl Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2004
    If you already have electricity, I would suggest going with an energy star rated AC frig. That is what I have now and I am off the grid. (Have photovoltaics and inverter.)

    I started out 36 years ago with propane refrigerators. First a Dometic, but it rusted quickly and the flue baffle was a real pain to clean and put back perfectly without smoking. Next was an old Servel. Reliable and worked like a charm, but was a "gas guzzler." Used it for years and it still worked great when I sold it.

    Went to a 12V frig in the 90's. Beautiful to look at but never froze things easy in the freezer section (forget having hard ice cream), it leaked from day one and rotted out the flooring underneath it. Also 12V or 24V appliances are VERY pricey.

    Went to an AC, energy star rated frig 3 years ago and haven't looked back.

    Now days, there are AC refrigerators that can compete with efficiency as the DC models, but are way less expensive! Just check the energy star ratings for the refrigerator you are interested in. Will have to do without the extras like automatic defrost and ice cube maker for better efficiency. You should see a reduction in your electric bill when you switch over to a rated frig. as they are big consumers of electricity.

    If you have an electric dryer however, you can save a lot by going to a gas dryer!

    Hope this helps!
  4. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 13, 2004
    We used a Servel which we still have out in the shed, for 5 to 10 years before we bought our Sunfrost 12 volt refrigerator in 1981 or so. The gas refrig worked fine, but I didn't like the idea of another gas appliance in our super insulated house, so we got the Sunfrost instead. The problem we have had when looking at other refrigerators recently is that it is hard to find one that isn't 19+ cubic feet with all kinds of undesirable features like frost free and ice makers.
    As already mentioned, you don't get a gas refrig to cut down on your energy bills, you get one because you don't have cheap electricity because you are making your own and you have limited electricity available. Even back in the 1980s we decided that the nearly $2000 that we paid for a Sunfrost and almost that much for 4 PV panels to run it was cheaper in the long run than buying LP.

  5. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

    Oct 11, 2004
    I agree with Peahigirl. We live off the grid on solar power and have a Danby propane fridge (7.8 cubic feet I think). No, it isn't nearly large enough and Lord, I hate it! I'm definitely changing to a high efficiency electric refrigerator in the next year or two. I do however, really like our propane chest freezer although they cost a lot more than an equivalently sized electric one.