12 V or 120 V fridge?

Which fridge to choose for a solar energy system: 12 V or 120 V?

What is a 12 V fridge?

Unlike the 120 V fridge that you have at home, 12 V fridges are specially designed for solar energy systems and are therefore ideal for those who want to install solar panels on their cottage or OffGrid van.

3 reasons to choose a 12 V fridge for your cottage or OffGrid van

Our customers often ask us if 12 V or 120 V fridges are better for solar energy systems.

While both options are possible, it often works out cheaper to choose a 12 V fridge, even if you already have a 120 V fridge lying around. Here’s why:

12 V fridges consume less energy

Those who have a solar energy system know that every watt counts! The more energy your devices consume, the more batteries and solar panels you’ll need.

So, 12 V devices—whether it be a fridge, coffee maker or microwave—allow you to maximize your autonomy and minimize your budget.

With a 12 V fridge, you don’t need to convert the voltage

In order to power a 120 V fridge with batteries, you must convert the voltage to 12 V.

In addition to the equipment you must purchase to do this, you’ll also need a larger battery bank because the conversion process will use up some energy.

12 V fridges are cheaper in the long run

Deep cycle batteries have an average life span of 5 years. So, don’t forget that if you choose a 120 V fridge, you’ll have to replace 3 batteries, instead of 1.

Let’s look at the numbers

Here are 2 budgets to help you understand the cost of the equipment you’ll need to power each type of fridge:

Fridge 120 V


2160 watts per day


1 day

X 3 Batteries – group size 31 (replaced every 5 years) $795
X 2 Solar panels - 210 W $510
X 1 Solar charge controller - MPPT 40 A $285
X 1 Pure sinus wave inverter - 600 W $265
Total $1,855

Fridge 12 V


600 watts per day


1 day

X 1 Battery – group size 31 (replaced every 5 years) $265
X 1 Solar panel - 165 W $220
X 1 Solar charge controller - MPPT 20 A $115
Total $600


If you choose a 120 V fridge, you’ll need:

3 batteries instead of 1 (remember, you need to replace them every 5 years)

2 solar panels (210 W) instead of 1 solar panel (165 W).

A solar charge control with a higher amperage than the one we recommend for 12 V fridges.

A pure sinus wave inverter to convert the voltage.


Even if 12 V fridges are sometimes more expensive, the overall cost will be lower because you won’t need to buy and replace as much equipment.

Simply put: if you’re looking for a device for your solar energy system, always choose the 12 V version!

Common questions

Are 12 V fridges less powerful than 120 V fridges?

Not at all! 12 V fridges have evolved a lot in recent years: they’re practical, reliable and powerful. What’s more, they’re available in a wide range of sizes so whether you have a big family or a small space, there’s a 12 V fridge out there that will meet your needs.

I’d like to calculate the consumption of my fridge. For how many hours does the compressor run per day?

The compressor runs for around 12 hours a day.

Why do 120 V fridges consume more energy than 12 V fridges?

  1. 120 V devices consume more watts than their 12 V counterparts.
  2. If you have a 120 V fridge, you need to convert the voltage to 12 V using an inverter. This conversion consumes energy.
  3. Inverters also consume energy because they must stay on at all times.

Should you have any other questions, our experts in store will be happy to help!

Shop for your 12 V fridge
To top