Our Off-Grid Refrigeration and Battery Choices

I have a more comprehensive update post coming in the next few days regarding how things are progressing on the new homestead but for now I wanted to pass on some preliminary info that others might find of use. As you might be aware, living off-grid requires thoughtful consideration on appliances and special power equipment. Some of the items needed are inverters, solar panels, and of course, the batteries which are the heart of the off- grid system. For now, let’s talk about our off-grid refrigeration and battery choices.

I want to be right up front with the information I am passing on. I am not endorsing any product. I researched and placed an order for the following couple of items but I haven’t seen them in person yet. I have them but have not unpacked them yet. I am merely letting you know of a couple new items that I am trying and once I hook them up and get some experience with them, I’ll make a new post to let you know what I’ve discovered.

Off Grid Deep Cycle Batteries

UPDATE FEB 28, 2021  I had serious sulfate on a terminal post on one of my TAB batteries. When I went to clean the terminal on closer inspection, the interconnect and battery post were disintegrating and small pieces of the post and terminal broke off. It appears both the battery terminal and the interconnect are made of a cheap alloy. In addition, that cell is now essentially dead. I have sent an email off to Canadian Energy, the company I bought the batteries from to see what my recourse is.

UPDATE MARCH 9, 2021 The sales engineer I dealt with, John, on my initial purchase is now working for Hub Power LTD. Hub Power has found another supplier of batteries very similar to the TAB batteries. Evidently the battery posts are similar to any commercial battery made for this purpose. I did a hard equalize on all my batteries and the battery I thought was dead came back to life and is fully charged. Having said that, John at Hub Power was certainly ready to make my situation right if that battery was indeed dead so I am confident Hub Power will stand behind the product.

Anyone familiar with living off-grid knows there are a handful of battery companies typically associated with power storage. Trojan, Surrette, Deka and Crown for example. Although I had good luck at our last homestead with our set of batteries, we had one charging scenario that neither I nor the engineers could understand and it’s something that has bothered me for 17 years so I didn’t really want to go with the same manufacturer again.

For our new off-grid homestead, I spent days researching and talking to various manufacturers trying to decide on a battery. Cost was certainly a factor in my decision since the price of batteries is becoming outrageous. I considered going with some new battery technology but it seems the lead acid battery still has the top slot when cost is of concern. I finally decided to give a new battery company a try. TAB, a European Company, is who I ultimately chose and the representative I talked to was John at Canadian Energy Vancouver. ( https://www.cdnrg.com/locations/branches/vancouver)  John was very knowledgeable about batteries and systems and he answered every question I asked of him promptly. The upshot is I am giving a Tubular battery a try.

Off Grid Refrigeration/Freezer

Another major decision we had to make involved the refrigeration/freezer. We flew out one of our deep chest freezers with us from the wilderness but the Sunfrost refrigerator was part of the sale to the new homestead owners. Sunfrost is an excellent but expensive product. Unfortunately, they are no longer in business so we were forced to find a substitute. I literally spent days researching our options and finally decided to try a refrigerator from Scott at Northern Fridge. (https://www.northernfridge.ca/ ) Scott is another man willing to answer every question I had in a timely manner.

Please keep in mind, I am merely pointing you to a couple companies that might be of value to you. Do your own diligence on the company and products. I have no affiliation or interest in any of these companies. Furthermore, until 3 or 4 months ago, I didn’t know these companies existed.

To date, I feel I have made the best decision I could for our needs. I will make a post in the future regarding the performance of these products once I gain some experience with them.

I might as well make mention that there are many companies who deal with the off-grid equipment market. It is my nature to request quotes from perhaps 6 companies and then I judge the company by price and response time and that is exactly what I did. Given the results of my requests for quotes, our new system is coming from Rob at Solacity (https://www.solacity.com/ ) although John at Canadian Energy Vancouver was equally good. I had a very tough decision between the two companies. I found both guys to be top notch and I wouldn’t hesitate to use both of them for any future needs.

Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!

Ron and Johanna

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2 Responses to Our Off-Grid Refrigeration and Battery Choices

  1. J. David Cox says:

    Me, too. What you said……batteries….the original mystery product. I now have Discover batteries. Generation four for me. I ruined the other three. These are German made. Local guy provided. Great service, Great guy. Are the batteries any good? I dunno….had ’em for a year now and they seem pretty good. Really hold the juice and charge up quickly and well, they haven’t been too much of a mystery yet. Which is good. So, I am cautiously optimistic. Still hoping ol’ Elon pulls a battery-rabbit from the hat. I have a UNIQUE fridge. Propane. Why? Because the service guy is good. Real good. I can call and he ‘gets it’. But I also have a Danby freezer from Costco that was cheap like borscht. Why? ‘Cause I only use it in the summer when my panels give me lots of juice. OTG ain’t a science, it’s a running sit-com with an improv director. Glad you posted.

    • Ron Melchiore says:

      Hi David. Thanks for your feedback. Batteries are one of those things that really can’t be evaluated properly until a good deal of time passes. Like years. The more years that pass without trouble, the more confidence one can say these batteries are good. I wish you good luck with your batteries. I always like to see stiff competition to the big boys so I hope you get a decade or more out of them. I looked into Unique and wasn’t impressed. I didn’t get a good feeling for the company. As you mention, confidence in customer service and local sales and service are huge factors in a decision to go with any product. I’m looking forward to unveiling the batteries and refrigerator in the next week or so. All the best! Ron

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