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Two Ways to Quietly Run Chest Freezers During Power Outages

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Power outages during a disaster can be nerve-wracking. Imagine your freezer full of nutritious food suddenly at risk, along with the money you invested in stocking it. As a prepared parent, you know keeping your family safe includes keeping their food fresh. This article will equip you with a plan to create a quiet backup power system for your freezer, ensuring peace of mind and a steady supply of healthy meals – no matter the emergency.

handling holding frozen meat pulled from freezer

Two Ways to Provide Quiet Backup Power to Your Freezer

We’re going to talk about two main ways of providing quiet backup power to your freezer: a battery-charger-inverter setup, and an all-in-one portable power station. In addition to what I’m explaining here, there are hundreds of online videos and web pages that will help you build your system. At the end of the day, it’s not that difficult and you can spread the cost of buying individual components over several months if needed.

Run Silent: Battery+Charger+Inverter+Solar and/or Wind

This quiet backup power system works as follows:

  1. The deep-cycle battery stores a significant amount of energy
  2. The Inverter can convert the battery power into standard 120 volt AC power
  3. A transfer switch transitions to battery power upon loss of grid power
  4. A separate or integrated charger keeps the battery optimally charged; and
  5. Solar panels and/or wind generators feed the battery charger.

What You Need

This backup power setup maintains your frozen food quietly, which in an extended crisis won’t attract potential predators with the loud noise of a portable generator. Here’s how to quickly build a quiet way to power your freezer if grid electricity is not available:

  • Start with a deep-cycle 12 volt battery, preferably a “gel-cell” or “AGM” type; both of these types are sealed to avoid the discharge of flammable hydrogen gas which occurs in cheaper batteries. It should have a capacity of at least 100 amp-hours (Ah) and preferably have screw terminals for easy installation.
  • Use an adequate-sized 12 volt to 120 volt Inverter, based upon the power need of your freezer and any other loads you need backed up. For instance, I have my house alarm backed up by the same system as my freezer. In my case, a 500 Watt sized Inverter is plenty of capacity for my 132 Watt freezer and my 60 Watt alarm power supply.
power inverterpower inverter
Select an adequate-sized 12 volt to 120 volt Inverter, based upon the power need of your freezer and any other loads you need backed up.
  • A Transfer Switch is optional but recommended, and can be a separate unit or integrated into the Inverter or Battery Charger. This small additional cost can literally save your bacon if the power fails while you’re sleeping or away from home.
  • Batteries require a quality Battery Charger to keep them at a high state of charge. You can have a separate charger, or you can have a combined Inverter/Charger.
  • From day-to-day, your backup system will use grid power to stay charged. You can probably get by for a day or two without having a supplemental way to keep your battery charged, but you do have other possibilities. Solar panels are a simple way to provide power to your system in sunny areas, but are much less efficient on cloudy or rainy days. Small wind generators are only useful in mostly windy areas, but have the advantage of providing power at night when solar provides none.
  • The last component is optional, and may or may not be available based on the equipment choices you make. It’s an Energy Monitor, and it assembles all of the important information about your backup system such as battery voltage, level of battery charge, current charging or discharging from your battery, and the Voltage and Watts coming from alternate power sources such as solar and wind. I have found the information from my Energy Monitor very helpful in keeping up with what’s happening in my backup system.
energy monitorenergy monitor
An energy monitor displays all the important information about your backup system.

The exact manner you will assemble your system will depend on the the items you choose, so follow the instructions for the individual components of your system. That will tell you what wiring and fuses you’ll need to connect up the components.

The Easier Alternative: Portable Power Station

portable power stationportable power station
A portable power station is an easier alternative.

You may already have what’s commonly called a portable power station. These combinations of a deep-cycle battery, charger, and inverter are packaged together, usually in a plastic case. Better versions of these power stations also have a “Transfer Switch,” which monitors the state of your household power and will immediately switch to the power station’s battery power if the house power fails. And most power stations have some kind of visual screen or indicator lights to help you monitor the amount of power available.

While an integrated power supply offers a simpler way to assure your freezer’s power supply, most power stations cannot add more capacity when needed. However if you choose your power station carefully, with an eye to future expansion, you’ll find there are power stations that can be accessorized with an additional battery and connecting cable, or even a “parallel” cable that connects two identical power stations to provide higher capacity outlets.

Tips for Protecting Your Freezer from Power Loss

  • If you have a solar power system for your house with a battery like the Tesla Powerwall, you’re all set, just make sure the battery system covers the electrical outlet that powers your freezer.
  • A thermometer is essential for monitoring conditions inside your freezer.
  • I also keep a couple of medium-sized styrofoam coolers near my freezer in case I need to leave the house in an emergency. They have enough capacity to take all of my frozen meat, as well as block ice and/or reusable ice blocks.
  • If you don’t have a backup power source for your freezer and their is a power loss, wrap it in blankets to insulate it and don’t open if if possible.
  • To assess whether your freezer lost power while you are away on vacation, keep a baggie of ice cubes in it. Check them when you return. Solid ice cubes or partially frozen cubes with sharp edges indicate your food likely stayed frozen and is safe to consume. However, completely melted ice cubes suggest your freezer may have been off for an extended period. Unfortunately, some or all of your food may not be safe. In this case, follow the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule to avoid potential foodborne illness. Rounded or melty ice cubes could indicate a partial thaw. Some foods like meats might still be salvageable if refrozen immediately. But proceed with caution!
thermometer temperature gaugethermometer temperature gauge
A thermometer is essential for monitoring interior freezer conditions.

Why You Need a Backup Power Source

Last year, under blue skies and no disaster in sight, my power suddenly went out for 2 ½ days due to a failed underground electric cable. Talk about a real-world exercise of my preparedness! Fortunately I had several ways of providing power for both my freezer and refrigerator, and while I had to improvise a few things, I lost no food and kept outside lights on at night for security. If I had not had a way to power the freezer in this period, I would have lost hundreds of dollars worth of food.

Freezers Aren’t Expensive to Run

The reason why it’s possible to assemble a backup source of power for your freezer is that freezers really don’t use a lot of power. Once the freezer chills things down to the desired temperature, the insulation efficiently keeps the food frozen with just an occasional run of the freezer’s compressor. My freezer is rated to use only $26 in electricity per year, and it cost me less than $200. When operating, it only uses 1.1 amps of power, which is a low level.

The Basics of Generating and Storing Power

If you’re not familiar with electrical things, I suggest you check out my article on generating and storing power, it will make this article make a lot more sense.

At a minimum, you need to understand:

  • That power can be stored in a battery for emergency use, but it’s not the same kind of power your freezer will use;
  • That it’s easy to convert the battery-stored power into what the freezer needs; and,
  • That you can easily calculate the energy you need to keep your freezer going with the formula Watts=Volts x Amps.

Why You Should Stock a Freezer with Meat

First, preparing for emergencies is all about layers and your food stores should be no different. With a layered food storage approach, you avoid a single point of failure. If one source becomes compromised, you’ll still have options to keep your family healthy and well-fed no matter what storms come your way.

Second, in a disaster situation, there tends to be additional physical demands like filling sandbags, clearing debris, making emergency repairs, and even shoveling snow. Packed with animal meats and fish, your freezer becomes a treasure trove of protein-rich, high-energy meals – perfect for activities like these requiring a diet with lots of protein to maintain muscles and repair injuries.

Why Do I Need a Dedicated Freezer?

dedicated stand alone chest freezerdedicated stand alone chest freezer
A separate freezer that is not regularly accessed allows a steady freezing temperature.

You probably already have a refrigerator with a freezer in the kitchen, you may even have an old refrigerator in the garage to keep beer and sodas cold. But realistically you can’t keep your day-to-day food and your perishables set aside for preparedness in the same refrigerator, there’s just not enough room in most cases. Check out this article for advice on food storage

There’s also the issue of accidental thawing of food due to the refrigerator door not sealing properly. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of closing the door and walking away, only to later discover the door cracked open due to catching on something inside. Kids especially can be careless with closing the door.

A separate freezer that is not regularly accessed allows a steady freezing temperature, mine has the thermostat set to “Normal” and keeps the contents right around 0 degrees F. I check it about once a week to make sure it’s working, and then only to add or rotate out meat that’s been around a while and replace it with new stock. This schedule drastically reduces the chance that the door won’t seal properly; also, the horizontal orientation of the door uses the weight of the door itself to help assure a tight seal.

There are a variety of ways to stock your freezer; like any other food preps, you can start slow and pick up a couple of things for the freezer when you normally shop for food. Or you can wait for a sale at a mail-order meat supplier for a quick partial fill of the freezer. Learn more about purchasing bulk meat from a farmer.


Why Do I Need a Freezer?

A separate freezer offers advantages over a standard refrigerator freezer for food storage such as more space for storing large quantities of meat, less chance of accidental thawing due to infrequent door opening, maintaining a steady freezing temperature.

Won’t it be expensive to run a backup power source for my freezer?

Freezers use relatively low energy. They only use power to maintain temperature, not constantly running. This means you can explore cost-effective backup options to fit your needs.

How long will a chest freezer stay cold without power?

According to, if a freezer is full and the door is unopened, it maintains a safe temperature for 48 hours. If half full with an unopened door, then 24 hours.

Can’t I just use a gas generator to run my freezer?

Sure! However, this backup power setup maintains your frozen food quietly, which in an extended crisis won’t attract potential predators with the loud noise of a portable generator.

FREE Power Outage Survival Handbook

Don’t let a power outage catch you off-guard. My guide, The Family Power Outage Survival Handbook, prepares you and your family for surviving without electricity whether the next outage happens in summer or winter weather.

Final Thoughts

Emergencies can disrupt life, but your freezer, stocked with protein-rich food, can be a powerful ally. Choose one of these methods to create a backup power system, ensuring your frozen food stays safe. With a layered food storage plan, you’ll have peace of mind, knowing your family is prepared for anything. Act now to safeguard your freezer’s role in your disaster plan!

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