Propane refrigerators are a popular alternative to the regular electric fridge. Propane fridges and propane freezers make use of the fuel LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) – commonly known as propane. Propane heaters and propane grills are very common appliances, so propane as a fuel is very easy to find.
These refrigeration devices do not have any moving parts. Rather than using a compressor to cool the contents, a propane refrigerator makes use of heat – in the form of burning propane – to keep the refrigerator or freezer cold.
Propane refrigerators – and their close relative the kerosene refrigerator – offer some significant benefits a traditionally powered fridge freezer does not.
Firstly the absence of moving parts meant these appliances do not suffer from any mechanical wear. This makes a propane refrigerator freezer reliable long lasting appliances.
Secondly, since these devices have no motor they operate without vibration. With no vibrations and generating next to no noise a propane refrigerators is very silent when running also.
The technology used within a propane fridge freezer – or kerosene fridge freezer – is an absorption system. This operates by using a mixture of ammonia, hydrogen and water in an enclosed loop that forms a nonstop cooling cycle. Absorption technology is commonly found in camping refrigerators and 3 way camping fridges.
The mixture within an absorption refrigerator is pressurize, which ensures that the ammonia remains in a liquid phase at normal room temperature.
Heat created by the burning LPG is used to boil the ammonia water mix in boiler portion of the propane refrigerator. This mixture then bubbles up into the separator where the water and ammonia are separated, then the remaining ammonia – in gaseous form – moves into a condenser unit.
In the condenser, series of cooling fins extracts the heat from the ammonia gas, which is transformed back into the form of liquid ammonia. The liquid ammonia then flows on into the propane refrigerators evaporator unit.
The evaporator is where the chilling action takes place. In this portion of the propane fridge or propane freezer the pure ammonia mixes with hydrogen gas. Through the wonders of Chemistry this reaction reduces the pressure of the liquid ammonia and it evaporates into gaseous form.
This evaporation of the ammonia is a cooling process, and this reaction is what provides the cold temperatures that are applied to cool the fridge freezer unit.
Finally the now liquid ammonia is recombined with the liquid water in the absorber unit. From there the combined liquid returns to the boiler and the process begins anew.
One key thing to remember is that with no moving parts, a number of the steps in the process are solely reliant on the force of gravity to occur correctly. For this reason absorption refrigerators like these – all propane refrigerators and propane freezers – need to be kept level in order to operate correctly.
With a combination of burning propane and cooling the refrigerator or freezer unit, there is unsurprisingly a lot of leftover heat. For this reason liquefied petroleum gas refrigerators should be setup with ample air clearance to allow for sufficient airflow to dissipate all this heat.
Propane refrigerators come in all sizes, and are available from a variety of manufacturers. The Ez Freeze is manufactured right here in the USA and range in size from 10.0 cubic feet to a substantial 21.0 cubic feet. The EZ1050W refrigearator-freezer runs off either Propane or Natural Gas, and be purchased for about 1400 dollars. At the top end they offer thestylish EZ2150S model with stainless steel doors. This has the look of a traditional top freezer mounted appliance, with all the benefits of operating off of Propane.
Another option for the Propane fridge freezer buyer are products from Crystal Cold. Their selection includes the CC12R, the CC18Rsd, the CC17R freezerless refrigerators and many more. Dometic too manfuactures some propane applainces – the Dometic DRC4000 3 way propane refrigerator is a relatively budget friendly option.