Some of you who are thinking about going off grid may be wondering how you’ll be able to keep your food cold. It’s no secret that refrigerators demand a fairly significant amount of power to run. If you’re just setting up your off grid system, you might not be able to afford to put a large enough system together to power a refrigerator. They make low energy units that are specially designed for off grid use but they can be really expensive to purchase.
For many years we’ve been able to get by with a much smaller renewable energy system because we figured out a way to eliminate the need to power an electric fridge. It will take a bit of an adjustment but it’s doable and it doesn’t really make things too inconvenient.
Here’s the way we were able to get by for so long without a refrigerator in our little mountain cabin. We just picked up a second hand chest freezer and we use it like a giant ice box. I’m talking about the horizontal freezers that have a lid that you lift up. This wouldn’t really work with an upright freezer because every time you open the door, all your cold air would spill out. The reason our cooler works is because electric freezers are insulated really well. When you open the lid to get food out, not much cold air escapes because cold air is heaver than warm air so it tends to settle towards the bottom of the cooler.
Every couple of days on the way home from work, I just pop in to our local grocery store and pick up a couple of bags of ice to replace the ice that has melted. My experience has been that the ice lasts longer if you buy the solid blocks of ice instead of the crushed ice.
We keep our food organized with some simple stackable wire baskets. By placing like items in each basket, it makes it easy to lift out a basket and grab exactly what we need without having to dig through a pile of loose food. We like to place the items that stand the highest chance of spoiling on the bottom of your makeshift ice box because that’s where the coldest air is going to be.
The only disadvantage to this setup is that you won’t be able to store any frozen foods or foods that have to be kept at a certain temperature before spoiling like mayonnaise. This setup is only going to keep your foods chilled. It doesn’t matter how much ice you put in it, you’ll never be able to get it cold enough to keep food frozen for long. The way we deal with the lack of a freezer is to simply buy our meats as we need them. If I plan on cooking a roast for dinner, I just pick one up from the grocery store on my way home from work.
How To Prevent A Cooler From Smelling Bad
We’ve learned that we can keep our ice box from smelling bad by cleaning up any spills right away and making sure that we keep the water from the melted ice drained out on a regular basis. My husband actually attached a small hose with a valve to the drain hole on the cooler that we bought. Once or twice a day we just open the valve and let the water drain into a bucket that we later use to water our garden with. It also helps if you make sure that you throw out any food that is nearing it’s expiration date.
So, if you’re worrying about how you might be able to get by without the luxury of an expensive 12v or propane refrigerator, you might want to consider trying our method. It takes a little more planning but it’s definitely manageable and we’ve gotten by just fine for about eight years now.
Warning: Certain food items can make you very sick if they are not kept cold enough. This article explains how “we” were able to get by without a refrigerator. We didn’t store things in it that had to be kept at a certain temperature. You shouldn’t do this either! It’s your responsibility to make sure that you know what temperatures your food items should be stored at and to make sure that you store them properly to prevent anyone from getting sick. When in doubt, don’t use this method for storing your food. This isn’t a suitable replacement for a real refrigerator. It’s simply a large cooler that we used to keep our food cool. If you choose to store your food like we did, you must understand that you are doing so at your own risk!