The increased global demand for energy will generate a growing need to electrify rural populations. Photovoltaic systems are being considered for many rural areas in the tropics. The development of photovoltaic-powered refrigeration will provide access to food preservation, which will result in improved health conditions. The over-arching objective of this investigation is to develop a properly designed, cost effective and energy efficient photovoltaic-powered refrigerator for tropical climates. The specific objectives of this investigation are to develop a design methodology and evaluate design variables for a photovoltaic system and refrigeration unit for tropical climates (high heat, low sun) that can be manufactured at relatively low costs. The price goal for the refrigerator and photovoltaic system is $1,000 retail. The investigation was accomplished through a five-step process: 1) background engineering and market research, 2) modeling, 3) model verification, 4) hourly simulation, and 5) cost analysis. Results indicate that over-sizing the condenser and the extreme insulation of the refrigeration unit reduced the overall cost of the refrigerator and photovoltaic system. Also, the investigation demonstrated that proper design of the photovoltaic system is the key to determining the refrigerator’s ability to perform in harsh climates.

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