Choosing the Best Backup Battery For Your Refrigerator During A Blackout

Of all the electrical luxuries you might miss during a power outage, a running refrigerator is probably pretty low on your list. We are all concerned about making sure our phones are charged, our lights are working, and our environment is comfortable via heating or cooling. Although these things are important, nothing should supersede your need to keep your food fresh and edible. Hence, it's quite necessary to prepare by having a battery backup for refrigerator equipment in your home.

Even though many of us can be happy living off of non-perishables such as canned goods and packaged items for a short time, after a while, we’re going to want something more fresh and healthy.  This is why we keep refrigerators in our homes. Fresh fruits, meats, eggs, cold beverages, and more are conveniences we take for granted. We fill our fridges with hundreds of dollars worth of foodstuff. Without the power to keep it running and keep our food from spoiling, we could run into trouble. I mean, going hungry is one thing. Feeling nauseated and ill due to eating spoiled food is almost ten times worse!

refrigerator battery backup - Growatt

There are options to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible without power. Filling the fridge with bags or blocks of ice like a glorified cooler is an option. Finding some location to sell you dry ice is another. Some people even consider wrapping their refrigerators in insulated blankets. None of these seem particularly convenient. With today’s technology, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have some kind of backup power at the ready to keep your refrigerator humming. Here are a few options to consider.

The Four Most Popular Options for Refrigerator Backup Power

Whole-House Generators – These large units take up a lot of space, but they will provide uninterrupted power to your entire house. Many times, these units will engage immediately once a power outage is detected. Some run on natural gas and connect directly to your supply. Others run on gasoline or propane and will need to have the tank refilled from time to time. As attractive as it is to know that life can go on as normal, the cost of a whole house generator is substantial. Also, you will need to have room for the unit as they are quite large.

Home Battery Backup – Another expensive but viable option is to have a home battery backup system installed in your home. This involves the addition of solar panels attached to your roof and battery storage secured in your home. You will need to know which system is right for you (grid-tie, off-grid, and hybrid) and you’ll need to know the amount of battery storage the suits your typical power usage.

Gas Generators – Almost everyone is familiar with gas generators. Modern gas generators run quieter and cleaner than they used to. They won’t power your entire house, but they will be able to manage the power for most critical items, such as your fridge, some lighting, and recharging phones, tablets, and laptops. A big drawback is the unit can not be used inside due to its exhaust emissions being poisonous. And bringing power from an outside unit into your home could be tricky since you’ll have to leave a door or window cracked open for the extension cords. Also, you will need to constantly check your fuel supply.

Solar Generators – Solar generators kind of give you the best of both—or should I say all—worlds. First, top-quality units can power all of your critical needs. Second, these generators can be brought indoors for use since they emit no toxic fumes. Third, they do not need to be “refueled” only recharged periodically. And fourth, they are a lot less expensive than whole-house solutions. Since most of them are portable, they can be taken from inside the home and outside to be attached to the solar panels for recharging. Finally, the cost of “fuel” for a solar generator. Zero dollars since the sunlight is free for all. And that’s the best price.

refrigerator battery backup - solar generator

Advantages of A Portable Solar Generator

  1. Simple to use
    These units are literally plug-and- Your refrigerator will plug right into one of the outlets on the unit and will have access to full power as needed.  
  2. Rechargeable giving you an endless supply of power—that costs you nothing
  3. Very little difficulty relocating your portable power station

Using a solar generator to run your fridge is incredibly convenient, but at times, your backup power supply will need to be recharged. Of course, one could simply figure out a way to run cables from the solar panels located outside directly to the generator. Thankfully, solar generators are easily relocated. To take advantage of the solar rays eager to recharge your unit, simply bring it out to where the solar panels are placed for optimum recharge time. Be mindful that, while your refrigerator is not being powered, it would be best to keep your doors closed (or opened and closed very quickly) to avoid “losing your cool.”  Soon enough, you will have your refrigerator back on the juice with the option to open your fridge door as often as you’d like.

There are other solutions for backup power to consider, but these four will be the most prominent ones available to you. The option that seems to make the most sense is a portable solar power station as your backup battery for your fridge. Depending on your selection, though, you will need to make sure your refrigerator and your power supply are a match.

What Size Generator Is Needed to Run Your Refrigerator And Freezer?

Finding the perfect generator and battery backup for refrigerator equipment is critical to keeping your food cold and safe to eat. It is necessary to select the unit that has enough power so you do not run into issues. Since most refrigerators and freezers use between 100 and 800 amps per hour, be sure to check the specifications of the generator or battery backup you’re considering.  

As for the wattage, you’ll need to consider not only the running watts but also the starting watts. If you’ve ever sat in a quiet kitchen, I’m sure you’ve heard the fridge motor kick on. If the generator’s wattage is too low, you could run into issues trying to power your refrigerator. Here are a few types of refrigerators and their usage.

  • Mini-Fridge – Running watts around 100, starting watts around 140.
  • Side-by-side Fridge – Running watts around 790, starting watts around 300 to 600.
  • Smart Fridge – Running watts around 300 to 500, Starting watts around 350 to 750.

As you can see, there is a wide array of power usage to consider, depending on your particular refrigerator.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, just remember that a standard 15 cubic-foot refrigerator can be powered comfortably with a 1200 to 1500 watt refrigerator battery backup unit or generator.

For instance, if you have opted to invest in a solar generator as your backup power for your refrigerator, the Growatt INFINITY 1500 portable power station might be all you need. It provides a 1512-watt capacity with a 2000-watt output. This unit should handle the power needs for most standard refrigerators. If you have multiple refrigeration units, you may need to invest in more than one battery backup unit. For instance, many people have a fridge in their kitchen and a smaller fridge or a freezer in their garage where they store frozen goods long term. In this case, a larger unit may be needed or having two separate units might be optimal.

Do you know what kind of fridge you have and what power it needs to run properly? Although your refrigerator will possibly list the running wattage, it will most likely not list the starting wattage. A simple math equation to help you determine this number is this: Running Wattage x 4 = approximate Starting Wattage.

About what size generator to run refrigerator and freezer? Be sure to exercise due diligence when determining which backup battery or generator you want to use to power your refrigerator during a power outage. Also, you can check our full guide: How to choose the best solar generator for your refrigerator

Best Practices to Use with Your Refrigerator During A Power Outage

Whether you have power running your refrigerator during a power outage or not, it would be wise to follow a few conservative actions to keep your fridge not only full of edible food but full of cold air.

Minimal Access

One thing you can’t do during a power outage is pulled open the door of your fridge and longingly stare into the vast array of foodstuff you’re trying to keep cold! What you’re doing is letting out all the cold. Actually, you’re replacing the colder air inside the fridge with warmer air from the outside. As you stand there with the door open, the temperature inside the unit will continue to rise. And without power, your refrigerator does not have the ability to bring that temperature back down.   

Food starts to spoil when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. At this point, you only have about two hours in which you can either return it to cold conditions or cook it. It is imperative you keep the door shut and your temperature as low as possible for as long as you can.

Before Accessing, Make A List

If dinner time is approaching and you need to get food out of the refrigerator, it’s best to make a list of everything you need BEFORE you pull open the door. If you quickly grab your protein, salad makings, and beverages and then rapidly slam the door shut—but come to realize you forgot to grab the salad dressing—you will need to reopen the door, and that’s even worse. Make a complete list of all your cold foodstuff, then open the door, quickly retrieve what you need, shut the door—and then breathe easy knowing you’ve got all you need.

Before Putting Away Leftovers, Let Them Cool Off

Placing a hot container in a refrigerator is a double-whammy. First, the obvious; your fridge will need to cool the hot food. Second, by placing hot food in a fridge, you increase the amount of humidity in the space…humidity that your fridge will need to remove. It seems logical, but it’s not in the front of our minds. Let the food cool as close to room temperature as possible (remember, you only have a couple of hours before it will go bad) then refrigerate.

Keep Your Refrigerator As Full As Possible

Refrigerator Backup Battery keeping food fresh

This might seem counterproductive but having a full fridge actually helps you conserve energy and creates an environment where your refrigerator will not need to run as often. This happens in two ways. First, the solid objects, once they have reached the optimum cool temperature, are easier to keep cool than the empty air around them. Think about it this way: which stays colder longer, a glass full of water or a glass full of ice cubes? With less air to cool, your refrigerator won’t need to work as hard to keep temperatures at the proper level.

Second, whenever you open your refrigerator door, the colder air inside the fridge is displaced by the warmer air from the room. If your refrigerator is full, there is less cold air to be replaced by the colder air. And the cold objects will barely drop in temperature.

I’m sure these are tips you’ve never considered, but even with a generator or battery backup for your fridge, these tips will go a long way in keeping your food edible and your power consumption at its lowest.

A Refrigerator Backup Battery Could Be A Lifesaver

With the amount of money we all invest in our food, we have the expectation that we will be able to enjoy that food before it expires. With refrigeration, we have no doubt about this. When a power outage inevitably hits, that expectation takes a hit. Having some sort of battery backup for your refrigerator takes the uneasiness out of the equation. The peace of mind one gets from knowing all that food stored in refrigeration will still be edible long after the power cuts out makes investing in a refrigerator battery backup and power solution worth the time and money.