Abstract

The purpose of this project was to explore the feasibility of powering a climate control system solely from a renewable energy source. The off-the-shelf cooling system components were taken from a ca. 1986 R-12 residential refrigerator and then reassembled onto a custom enclosure which was constructed to serve as the climate-controlled compartment. The enclosure design was purposefully simple: a rectangular shaped box constructed out of plywood and mounted on wheels together with a plexiglass door which was substituted for the front face. The overall design provided for enhanced mobility while also allowing for easy observation of the interior temperature via an interior-mounted, digital, commercial residential thermostat integrated into the control system. The system, nominally, is triggered by incident solar radiation; the initial set-point temperature was 21 °C. Compressor power was derived solely from renewable energy. Specifically, a pair of 100W 12V monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels was used to generate electricity which was subsequently stored in a deep-cycle battery. Under steady-state AC operation, the compressor draws approximately 2.1A. Due to system inefficiencies, the corresponding DC current draw is necessarily higher and approaches 22.3A. For a compressor duty cycle ranging from 50–100%, the current draw over a model 9 hr day would range from between 100.1–200.3 A-H. The lower limit is within the energy storage capacity for the fully-charged system, as currently designed.

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