So here’s the scenario. From Brazil, to the Philippines (in any direction), we have very poor people around the world who cannot afford, or do not have access to, electric lights. They live in crowded, dark conditions, and need light. You have some very bright, enterprising locals who have an idea, or heard about an idea, and know a good thing when they see it. They are now in business bringing light where it didn’t exist, or was very expensive to provide. A soda bottle, water, and a bit of bleach can provide an equivalent amount of light as a 50 watt light bulb.
After 4 years off-grid with propane refrigeration, we have our power system built to the point where we can afford the electric to power a fridge. OK, it’s not all us, refrigeration technology is advancing, efficiency is increasing, and the prices are dropping. For less than half the price of the propane fridge, we picked up a Kenmore 9.5 cu. ft. (Model 62912 – $350) that uses less electricity than a 100 watt light bulb, 75 watts running to be exact (750w startup surge, as reported by our Kill-A-Watt kWh Meter, for a total of .7 kWh / day with interior temps of 75F – 85F)*. Propane is common in off-grid homes because the power systems tend to be small, and some devices, like refrigeration, cooking, water heating, and drying, are not appropriate to be driven from a limited power source. Propane is the necessary evil. Now that we have moved to a energy efficient electric unit that’s within our generation capacity, our propane usage will drop, as well as the additional (but minor) maintenance that the propane units require. This is a big plus for us, as the electronic control module on our Norcold unit has died twice, and although a warranty repair, no local Norcold dealer will make a house call, the warranty is a depot repair only (parts & labor), and even though we have offered to pay for the house call, Neither Norcold nor the local dealers will oblige. We are done with Norcold.
* See the new P4460 Kill-A-Watt with builtin battery backup so memory is not lost during power outages or moving the meter. It also allows you to enter your “per kWh charge” to track usage costs.