Efficient Refrigeration

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Jin+Guice
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Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Jin+Guice »

Ever since I've started dumpster diving all of my food I've had a storage problem. I don't know what I'm going to get, so I end up needing a larger storage capacity than a normal fridge to keep things on hand. I also occasionally get really large hauls of something that looks really good, which is hard to pass up, but ends up being a pain in practice.

Does anyone have a suggestion for how to more efficiently get the biggest refrigeration and freezing capacity for the least amount of power use?

Does anyone know any reliable methods for keeping food cold outside of electrical solutions? I am in Louisiana and live in an area where rats/ possums will steal food if it's left outside, so not a huge capacity for utilizing the winter cold or leaving food without external protection.

chenda
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by chenda »

Maybe you could build an house ice:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_house_(building)

theanimal
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by theanimal »

Ah didn't see this thread before I responded in the other one. viewtopic.php?p=252877#p252877

If you are going to be using electricity, I recommend chest freezers. One you can use to freeze things that can be frozen (breads, fruits, some veggies etc). You can convert another to a chest fridge, which is by far more efficient than a regular fridge, especially when full.

How high is the water table there? Could you dig and put in a root cellar? Otherwise drying and canning work too, but require a lot of time.

I've explored this idea a bit myself. I have different and more favorable circumstances in terms of having a lot of cold, but maybe there's something of use here: viewtopic.php?t=11374

jacob
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by jacob »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:23 pm
I also occasionally get really large hauls of something that looks really good, which is hard to pass up, but ends up being a pain in practice.
How hard? Maybe the simple solution is to transcend the "if it's free, it's for me"-impulse and take less realizing that even free stuff has a cost. Alternatively, when the garden is overproducing we zucchini-bomb our neighbors. You could also hold a feast converting the bounty into community/friends capital. This might not work for everybody given the dumpster-diving stigma?

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Ego
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Ego »

I second Jacob's idea. Turn the excess perishable food into non-perishable social capital.

sky
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by sky »

You can use a temperature controller to turn a chest freezer into a refrigerator.

The Johnson A419 was the type I used for many years. It is reliable but seems to have become expensive: https://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Controls ... B0026NDC5O

There may be a cheaper alternative here (but I have no experience with this product): https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Temperat ... B07PVBG8K1

You plug the controller into the wall, plug the freezer into the controller, put the temperature sensor in the freezer, and set the controller to the desired temperature.

The benefit of using this system instead of a normal refrigerator is that power use is extremely low, due to the additional insulation that a freezer has, and because all the cold air does not spill out when you open the door.

white belt
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by white belt »

The options for refrigeration are as follows:

1. keeping things cold with ice (will still need to source ice from somewhere)
2. keeping things cold with electricity
3. keeping things cold with fossil fuels (propane)

For option 1, a “hack” if you don’t have power on site is to just have a well insulated cooler that you refill with block ice once a week or so. As long as you have a friend/neighbor that is cool with you making block ice in a small section of their freezer, it should work out fine. Obviously in a power outage scenario you’re gonna be in trouble, but that’s no different than running a fridge on grid power. Using a cooler does buy you some maneuvering time before the food spoils because of the insulation.

There are a variety of vehicle/off grid resources out there for options 2 and 3.

mountainFrugal
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by mountainFrugal »

Two different ideas using some of the previous posts:
If you do end up with an actual freezer you could make blocks of ice out of water storage containers. If you have some additional coolers this would give you some extra flexible cooling storage capacity and time to consume your hauls. Load the cooler(s) with food and cover with a few nalgene sized frozen bottles. You can drink the water after. Larger blocks of ice or water containers will melt slower so you will have to experiment for a set-up using a smaller freezer. In our house kitchen freezer the nalgene sized ice blocks are flexible enough to move items around whereas a larger block is a lot less flexible. If you do the cooler route as primary or expanding storage, the well insulated coolers work a lot better if you can pre-cool them with a few frozen bottles a few hours before you plan on using them (if possible).

One other long-shot idea from long rafting trips... befriend someone at a restaurant and use their walk-in freezer to freeze a few coolers overnight with 1/8, 1/4, and 1/3 water in the bottoms (and possibly food). Only open the cooler with more ice in it when the food from the others is completely consumed. Keep out of direct sun. :).

Colibri
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Colibri »

I second Jacob.
As a dumpster diver myself, I had to scale back the amount of food I was bringing home to only what I would eat in the next few days. Not so much because of cold storage issues ( I live in the frozen north ) but because I was getting obsessed with saving as much food as possible in the name of " preventing food waste "
and " Free food ".
Just be a bit more realistic and you might not need any additionnal storage. I know it can be hard...

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Ego
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Ego »

On Wednesday I bought a Pelican ProGear Elite 45 cooler at the swap meet. Same as this one but mine is a bit bigger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqfGja-doNY

It has super thick walls and is made for long deep sea fishing trips. They claim 10 days of ice retention and the video above shows that it is true. I would guess you could buy a bag or block of ice, or a better yet a block of dry ice every so often to keep it cold for the power free solution.

mountainFrugal
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by mountainFrugal »

Dry ice is a good idea if you have decent non-recirculating ventilation inside your container or a fresh air source. If it is stored outside, no problem. There is a chance of CO2 levels increasing in your container can negatively effect sleep (starting ~3000 ppm)* or worse cause asphyxiation (edit at high concentration). This was a design consideration in our van and using dry ice in a cooler. We decided against it when we need to keep the cooler inside at night.

*Dynamic of Changes in Carbon Dioxide Concentration in Bedrooms - Batog and Badura (2013)
* https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32979003/
Last edited by mountainFrugal on Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Chris
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Chris »

As theanimal alluded to, processing or preprocessing food, reduces their volume, and thereby reducing the fridge space required. It may also eliminate the need for refrigeration entirely, if it can be canned after processing. Processing ideas: stewed tomatoes, condensed soups, pie filling. Veggies can be diced and frozen (I do this with onions all the time). Also meats can be cooked, diced, and frozen; less volume and ready to mix-in to a future recipe.

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Ego
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Ego »

mountainFrugal wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:07 pm
There is a chance of CO2 levels increasing in your container can negatively effect sleep (starting ~3000 ppm)* or worse cause asphyxiation.
Interesting! I had no idea.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Efficient Refrigeration

Post by Jin+Guice »

Thanks for the feedback.

As some of you have alluded to, dumpster diving has turned me into a weird food hoarder. I've only been at it a year and the strategy is somewhat different than grocery shopping and I haven't perfected it yet. For the first six months I was just super into dumpster diving and going everyday and always taking weird shit if I found it. I'm mostly out of weird shit I haven't tried at this point.

I do still feel obligated to use the food I take. I'm trying to break this habit as I have access to compost piles to dispose of it and it was literally already going to waste anyway.

I'm also playing this on hard mode right now. Right now I have 0 actual fridges that only I have access to, but access to like 5 fridges that other people also have access to. I'm also not just cooking for myself. I'm almost either always cooking for my girlfriend and/ or roommate. I've gone over to friend's houses and cooked for 6 people, providing all of the food as well. I've thrown a 15 person dinner party with food that I got 100% for free. I also donate a lot of food to community fridges.

There is still just the major score that requires more room. Finding 400 eggs at once (I eat a shit ton of eggs everyday and sometimes don't find them for > 1 month) or 4 trashbags full of pre-cooked meals that I don't have time to run to a community fridge when I find them.

Anyway, I need to do some work on my weird food hoarding tendencies and move from a scarcity to abundance mindset. But I also think having something like 2 full sized refrigerators or a refrigerator and chest freezer would be majorly beneficial for huge hauls that I want to donate and/ or prepping for large dinner parties.

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