Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #134

4 March 2010

Fridge Article Revisited

Thank you to all the people who have sent in comments. The following is a short summary of those received, each of you have been credited using only your first name:

From Greg - Thank you Dave for a terrific newsletter!! One of the best you have done. It covers the topic very well and has cleared up a lot of urban myths re refrigeration. Keep up the good work.

From Gene - Good idea here Dave - and on Gardening Australia - one was converted into a worm farm - perhaps an article on how to avoid the 'land-fill' problem.

From Vicky - Old chest fridges make excellent veggie growing containers, holes in the bottom etc filled with good soil - no more bending, so ditching your old fridge does not have to end in land fill!!

From Sharon - Thanks for the best article I have ever read, this is an enormous help to my husband & I, we live off the grid and currently running on a generator with an LPG fridge. I have been eyeing off the Electrolux for months now, and wasn't quite sure if I should go with the 24V or 230V, I think you have solved my indecision. Thanks again for an excellent article.

Steve and Angela - Excellent newsletter, very interesting topic for us at the moment, as we hope to have our off the grid home up and running in the next couple of months. Give yourself a pat on the back from us.

Chris also commented that " I am about to buy a Haier Oracle 215 litre 2 door fridge. They were on sale in the Boxing Day sales at Harvey Norman and Retravision for $299 (HN) or $288 (retra). They are rated at 370kWh/yr. The good news (for solar) is that they are cyclic defrost, ie: not frost free. This means that when the compressor goes off, the inverter should go off. It looks pretty good, and uses R600A refrigerant (which is a blend of propane and butane, similar to automotive lpg)."

Maryke asked why I did not mention Vestfrost. My reason was that the two 2 door fridge freezers that have been tested are only rated as a 3 and a 4 Star rating (1 & 2.5 Stars under new system). This does not compare favourably with the Electrolux 5 / 3.5 (old/ new) Star rating. There is a 5 / 4.5 Star freezer only and a 5.5/ 4.5 Star fridge only) in the Vestfrost range. Most are manual defrost rather than frost free. There appears to be some models on the market that have not been tested to the required Australian standards.

The Star label ratings of all fridges in Australia can be found at this link. You can narrow your search by fridge type, capacity & brand. You can then alter the sorting by size, efficiency etc. Also there is a Tab for "Comprehensive Detail'.

I now have the power consumption of my 420 Litre Electrolux for the month of Feb - it came in at 888 Wh/day (956 Wh/day according to the Star label. According to the Bureau of Meteorology the average maximum daily temperature is 29.1C for February (0.6C lower that the hottest month which is December). The minimum average night temperature in Feb is 18.8C.

There are a couple potential myths about fridges.

The first is that whether manual defrost is more efficient. I am not certain - I suspect that it is a line ball call. Incidentally, the Star rating includes the power used by Frost Free models. The problem with manual defrost is that the fridge becomes progressively less efficient as the unit ices up. When you finally do defrost it, quite a lot of energy is used on the first day after defrosting to bring down the temperature.

The second myth is that freezer on the bottom models are more efficient.

As we have seen above the Vestfrost are not particularly efficient and both Westinghouse and Electrolux bottom mounted freezer models are less efficient than their top mounted freezer models.

New Frames

We are pleased to advise that we have replaced our range of USA made roof mounted UniRac framing with the Aussie made SunLock range.

It is always good to support a locally made product and it is more economical as well!

Extreme Rolling Sponsorship

At the beginning of February RPC had the pleasure of hosting, for a couple of days, Andreas Degelet, his brother Renee, and Bek and Kat who are part of his support crew. The purpose of the visit was for RPC to install some solar gear on his vehicles to assist in the remarkable journey they are about to undertake.

RPC were happy to sponsor two 85Watt solar panels, two Latronics sine wave inverters, fusing, cabling, and installation. Our battery supplier Alco Batteries "came to the party" with two 100Ah deep cycle "Gel" batteries, (thanks Barry).

Andreas, ex NZ RAF and paraplegic since a tragic accident in 1995 is made of much sterner stuff than most. His last visit to us was in March 2005, again for the fitting of solar equipment to his caravan, this was before he set off to ride his hand-cycle 16,000 kms around Australia and calling into schools along the way to give inspirational talks to the many kids he met.

This time there is another worthwhile purpose behind the reason for the visit. This time, Andreas and another paraplegic Dale Elliot, Australia 's first paraplegic skydiver, intend riding their hand-cycles 5,000 klms from Melbourne to Darwin. The journey officially kicked off on Wednesday the 17th Feb 2010, and as well as visiting many schools along the way there is also another reason behind the ride.

Andreas and Dale are raising money to help cure children born with Club Foot in Africa. Every $200 they raise gives another child the chance to walk properly (view a YouTube video). This is one project worthy of support if you are in the position to do so.

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.

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