Emergency Preparedness: Simple and Inexpensive Refrigeration

For right now, we don’t have a solar panel yet.  If we needed refrigeration and it wasn’t winter and no access to ice, my first choice for alternative refrigerationi to have ready touse is solution 1.  Someone used this cooler in Arizona in the summer and claimed that it worked well.

Methods of Alternative Refrigeration

Passive Cooling

Here are three methods of alternative refrigeration you can use without electricity. Your best success will come using a combination of all three passive cooling methods.

Having a way to refrigerate your food and “chill out” when the power goes out could be one thing to help ease the stress during a crisis.

Solution 1: Evaporative Cooler Fridge

Evaporative Refrigerator

Supplies needed:

  • A shelf unit
  • Burlap bags
  • Clamps or clothespins
  • Large pan for water (if needed)
  • A cheap PVC shelf unit from you local hardware store works well. It’s lightweight and inexpensive.

Assembling Instructions:

  • Assemble shelf with the top shelf inverted (shown in picture) to use as a built-in tray for water.
  • Cut burlap to fit around shelf. I recommend doing this ahead of time in case you need to sew pieces together.
  • Soak burlap in water and place around shelf as shown using the clamps or clothespins to hold cloth in place.
  • Fill the top (or large pan/cookie sheet) with water.
  • Leave an extra amount of burlap folded over on the top to soak in the water.

As the water wicks down the burlap there’s a cooling effect on the items placed inside on the shelf.

Putting it in the shade is of course optimal and a slight breeze is helpful too.

Solution 2: Zeer Pots

Supplies needed:

  • 2 clay pots that are able to nest inside of each other (round pots work best). They need to be clay/earthenware and MUST be unglazed.
  • Sand– enough to fill in the space between the 2 pots
  • A piece of burlap or thick blanket


Zeer Pots

Mohammed Bah Abba of northern Nigeria won a Rolex Award for his pot-in-pot invention. It is a refrigerator than runs without electricity. “A key reason for the pot-in-pot’s success is the lack of electricity in most of the northern rural communities, for without electricity there can be no refrigeration.”

This alternative refrigeration method is being used in Third world countries to help fresh produce last longer.

Here’s how it works. You take a smaller pot and put it inside a larger pot. Fill the space in between the two pots with wet sand. Cover the pots with a wet cloth. When the water evaporates, it pulls the heat out with it. This simple alternative refrigeration unit uses basic laws of physics to keep the inner vessel cool.

To learn more about Mahammed’s Story and the physics of how this alternative refrigeration unit works go to Rolex Awards.

Using a Solar Oven as a Radiant Refrigerator at Night

Radiant Refrigeration

Richard McMahon of Western Australia

He used a box cooker to make ice. The “Uncooker” was placed in a location where it saw a maximum amount of sky and no trees or buildings. He was getting ice in the cooker even though the outside temperature was above freezing. During the summer months he was unable to make ice.

Later he built a radiant refrigerator. During the summer months the temperature inside the fridge would not rise above 16° C. Read More . . .

About admin

Francesca Erazo has a passion to see her generations being strong in the Lord. Homesteading has provided an opportunity to grow in many areas of life for the whole family.
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