Solar technology delivers refrigeration to off-grid areas

Solar power is increasingly becoming fashionable, meaning that people living off the electricity grid can still share the joys of previously unfathomable technology.
Among the recent technologies gaining currency in the Kenyan market are solar fridges and freezers.

A solar-powered refrigerator runs on electricity generated from the sun. The cooler operates with a compressor powered directly from sunlight.

The refrigerator stores thermal energy in ice and a thermostat maintains the temperature between the required limits.

Off-grid refrigerators have long been used in remote areas of Kenya and other countries. But previous refrigerators either used kerosene or gas, which were both harmful to the environment and posed a health hazard to the users.

And even then, the initial solar-powered fridges have been the preserve of social welfare institutions like rural hospitals with no access to electricity. Most were gifts from international donors.

Rural hospitals may have been the initial adopters, setting the pace for the technology. Now even hotels are following suit.

One of the marketers of this range of fridges, Chloride Exide Kenya Ltd, says they have lately been in unprecedented demand.

Other than rural clinics and schools, Mr Tim Jessop, the Chloride Exide general manager says, “We are seeing growing demand for solar fridges and freezers for Safari camps, hotels and lodges, and small businesses in remote areas of the country.”

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