Monday, May 19, 2014

Our New Sun Frost RF16 Refrigerator And A Bold New Color

This is Mike's year of putting all that we have learned together and making it right.  One of the things that we have never been "normal" with is our refrigerator.

We started off with a full sized propane refrigerator that worked well but used way too much propane.  It was the right choice at the time because our system was smaller and we wouldn't have made it through our first winter with an electric refrigerator.

After that first year Mike increased the size of our solar system and we bought a regular Frigidaire and it would have been fine if the 370kWh on the Energy Savings tag was correct.  In fact when we plugged that refrigerator into our kWh meter it was more than double which did not make us happy.  So with that much energy usage we could only run that refrigerator for part of the spring, all summer and part of the fall.

Then we went to an old standby.  We got an rv refrigerator while not the most efficient we could run it on either electric or propane with the flip of a switch.  It worked well but I was not happy with the small size.

At that point we had two refrigerators in the kitchen.  I switched over the the big one in the summer.  Mike was not happy about two refrigerators so he started researching again.  We have always known about the Off Grid solar refrigerators but two things kept us from buying one.  1.  Did they also lie about the Energy Efficiency?  and 2.  The cost.

Mike checked some reviews and there aren't many and he also spoke in detail several times with the rep at Sun Frost.  This is a big step as these refrigerators are made to order to your specifications and it would be a nightmare to return one.  Mike finally bit the bullet and ordered one.  So we waited and crossed our fingers that this would be the "one".  You can order any finish that you want and we just went with black since that was what we had and it will match the stove.  Now the worry begins.  We have never seen one of these refrigerators in person and the pictures online are pretty ugly, lol.

The refrigerator has been traveling from CA for a week and we finally got a call from Fed Ex Freight that it will be dropped off…yay.  Mike and I take the Jeep with the trailer and also the tractor down to the store.  Mike getting ready to get the refrigerator off the truck:

Lining up for the big box which is very top heavy since the motor is on top:

After the driver helps get it into the tractor bucket it's my turn to help.  Mike tells me to stand in the tractor bucket and hold the refrigerator while he drives over the the trailer.  I have a small freak out moment since Mike didn't tell me that the refrigerator will fall back onto the tractor.  So yes I freaked out when it fell over, lol.  But we prevailed and got this top heavy thing onto the trailer and strapped it down.  I drove it into our property and Mike followed with the tractor.  We made our switch at the pond.  There is no way I am risking losing the refrigerator on our way up to the top of the house, lol:

Now the fun part…yeah right.  We have to figure out how to get it off the trailer and down to the house.  The refrigerator is 300 pounds and with the motor on top it can easily fall over.  Mike decides to take off the outer box first.  We get the box off and decide to use the hand truck to take it down to the house.  Mike gets it onto the hand truck and off the trailer.  Once it is off the trailer I help hold the hand truck and one side while we take it down to the house. wasn't too bad.  We got it inside:)

We knew this refrigerator was short and the company does sell a cabinet to put under it for "only"$522.00.  We decided to wait and see how short it was and what could be built if we needed it.  As you can see Mike will have to build something to make it higher and this is with 3 inch legs on the bottom:

We went to town and bought a 2x10x10.  Mike building two small boxes that we will install under the refrigerator:

Painted black and drying:

We decide to make the big switch in the morning.  We have to move the old refrigerator out.  Then Mike has to take out the old pipe that was hooked to the rv refrigerator and went through out ceiling for venting and also the fresh air vent that came in through the side of the house.  After he gets the pipes out he needs to make any repairs to the walls and replace the ceiling tile.

In the middle of all this I say "hmm…since we have everything out why don't we repaint the kitchen"…in a color.:)  So before we get started we run to town and pick up a yellow paint.  As you know Mike and I are terrible at picking colors so we are crossing our fingers that this will be a nice color.

OK…time for the switch.  The rv refrigerator gets disconnected and moved out of the way.  Mike starts sanding and spackling a crack that is behind our stove.  While he does that I clean everything and prep for painting:

I start painting the first wall:

Mike works on the repairs in the refrigerator corner:

We have to do this as quick as we can since the rv refrigerator is not plugged in and the food is inside it.  We need to make the switch as fast as we can.  Unfortunately we have a lot of drying time that we have to wait because of the spackling and the painting.

I got the first coat of paint on and I hate the color. Uh oh!!  Mike doesn't like it either:

Ugh..Mike tells me to drive all the way back to town and get a new color.  Yeah right…that is easier said than done and we don't have the time for samples.  I ask Mike to call Nicole as she has a dark orange on her wall and it is nice but a lighter tone would work for us.  I get to Lowe's and find Nicole's color.  I go with the one that is lighter and take it home.

OK…here goes.  I start with the refrigerator wall:

Ohh…it is bold but I like it so much better than the yellow:)

After I get that one wall painted it's time to help Mike.  I have been dreading this part.  We have to move the new refrigerator in place and get the old 3 inch legs off and then tilt it up onto the 10 inch boxes that Mike built.  Mike tilts it up and I hold it while he unscrews the 3 inch legs.  OK that went well:)  Now for the big tilt.  Thankfully we have a wall behind us, lol.  Mike tilts it while I get the first box under it.  Now for the really hard part…the second box.  We have to tilt it up and on top of the 10 inch box then we have to slide the second box under the other side of the refrigerator.  Whew we get it done.  The hard part is over:)  

Now we just have to make sure the boxes are positioned evenly and screw them into the refrigerator using L brackets to make sure it can't fall over.

Next Mike screws the back of the refrigerator to the wall for safety.  And for the final part.  Mike test fits a piece of luan to cover the front bottom part of the refrigerator.  We left the middle section open to keep a plastic pan underneath.  This is the drain.  Mike will paint and velcro the front piece on so we can get to the drain bucket:

The refrigerator is finished and in place.  Now we hook up the kWh meter and cross our fingers:

My new and refreshed kitchen and I love it:):)

Our Sun Frost RF16 review so far:)  After two days of running this refrigerator it has preformed higher than out expectations.  Now that is a rarity and a nice surprise.  Our first 24 hour period it used .47 kWh and the second 24 hour period it used .40 kWh.  That is amazing.  It must maintain the temperature inside the refrigerator very well as it doesn't "run" very often and when it does it stays on for a short period of time.  As you can see from the inside pictures it has super thick insulation.  I also like that it has two separate thermostat controls.  One for the refrigerator and one for the freezer.

The New Fridge and our homemade base:

The compressor is on top(and Mike can fix anything that could go wrong with it:))

The bottom refrigerator section:

And the freezer section:

Now that I have a larger refrigerator I can stock up, lol.

It;s another busy week for us and it's time to get my garden planted.:)  Have a great week and I will post next Monday.



  1. First off tell Mike I'm glad he is getting more shots of you working too. :) You said the hard part was putting those boxes under it I'd probably think it would be getting it down to the house. LOL I love the new color too and it really pops your cabinets now. What no supervisor Niki needed on this job? :) Jaxson

    1. Mike and I both hung on to the hand truck on the way down. It was a team effort, lol.

      We didn't want to roll over Niki so she was inside. She can't get out of the way quick enough anymore.

  2. Wow..that is one nice refrigerator. Mike did a nice job on the base, what a racket they have on the pre-fabed ones. The new color sure warms up your kitchen, looks great. I bet your garden will take off now with the warmers soil and air temps. I always try to grow enough so that there is plenty for me and the

    1. Thank you. This is truly a first time for color for Mike and I that we like:)

      Yeah…the critters are driving me crazy.

  3. Mike and Lisa:

    Now, after nearly a year using it, how has the Sun Frost performed for you in terms of energy efficiency and cooling?

    Thank you.

  4. Would love to hear your observations about longer term use.

    1. Four years later and the refrigerator is still fantastic. Our solar can run it with no trouble which is great. I love the bottom section for fresh produce. It is a huge area that I put baskets in. It is great for pulling the whole basket out while prepping vegetables. It could use a shelf in the freezer but that is so minor for what it's purpose is, and that is to use less electric. I manually defrost it about 3 times a year. Just plan ahead and do it when it is relatively empty.