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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
Buying a Sundanzer involves some choices. First is the size. If you have the space, get the largest unit. The reason is that the compressor is the same for all of them, and the only thing that changes is how often the compressor cycles. So the largest one will draw the same number of watts; it will simply do so a bit more often (using more watt-hours overall). After deciding on the size, you'll have another difficult choice to make: fridge or freezer. In fact there's absolutely no difference between the two except for the thermostat used. You could, as I did, get both thermostats. Then if you later decide you'd rather have a fridge instead of a freezer (or vice-versa), you can swap them in a fairly easy operation.

My unit is currently set up as a fridge. I keep it packed at the coolest setting in a hot garage. The temperature inside stays just above freezing. To accomplish this, the unit consumes approximately 300 watt-hours per day (drawing around 45 watts while the compressor's active). That means a 250 amp-hour 12-volt deep cycle battery will keep this arrangement going for 10 days (assuming you don't mind draining and possibly damaging the battery; normally you don't want to go below 50% of the battery's capacity).

The scenario I've described is fairly demanding; during an extended power outage you'd probably want to adjust the thermostat to something more reasonable than just above freezing. The actual energy usage depends on many factors, including the ambient temperature around the Sundanzer, the ambient temperature around the batteries, the thermostat setting, what you're trying to cool, etc. But hopefully my example will give you some figures to play with.

With the AC/DC option, the Sundanzer can run off AC or DC (typically a deep cycle battery or battery bank, which you supply and is external to the unit). The Sundanzer will use DC as a backup, automatically switching to your batteries if the AC goes out (or was never used in the first place). It won't charge the batteries so you'll still need a battery charger (or charge controller if you're using solar). Note that even if you plan to run this with a solar panel, you'll still need a battery in the equation; the Danfloss compressor needs in-rush amps that panels can't supply. And of course solar isn't possible at night. Photovoltaics, then, are really about charging the battery--not directly running the unit per se.

Physically, the unit is solid although not exactly industrial. It has the thickest walls (most insulation) of any fridge I've ever seen, which no doubt contributes to its impressive efficiency. Inside, the baskets work well and really help with organizing. Under the hood, those who like tinkering with electromechanical things will find that the Sundanzer is very amenable to that, and it wouldn't be difficult to integrate one into a home automation system. The electronics are simple and overengineered--eschewing delicate boards that can be fried by a simple static shock.

Overall, this is a very bare-bones unit, and the entire Sundanzer line could use a refresh. For example, the single control--a plastic knob for the aforementioned analog thermostat--feels cheap and primitive. A digital thermostat capable of spanning a large range would allow the unit to function as a fridge or freezer. An LED display could tell you what the internal temperature is without having to open the unit. I'd also prefer a hasp or lockable latch to the current plastic lip.

As mentioned in other reviews, another downside is the unusual 24-volt 7-watt incandescent bulb. The bulb base appears to be a type E14 (14mm base) SES (small Edison screw), which is the type Europeans might use as nightlights near their beds. True, it only consumes 7 watts, but that's not so impressive given the meager light output. I've seen LED flashlights that are orders of magnitude brighter at a fraction of the wattage. A premium and expensive power-saving product such as the Sundanzer really ought to use LED technology.

While the Sundanzer is not fancy, it is reliable, and there are few other products like it on the market (Engel and SunFrost being the obvious competition). It's also a very flexible product; you can start off using it just like any other fridge/freezer, running it off standard household AC; no batteries or photovoltaics are needed in this configuration. Later, when you're ready, you can explore the DC option, perhaps as part of a series of ongoing steps to reduce your dependence on the grid. Its ability to handle both 12 and 24 VDC is another testament to its flexibility, and one that you'll particularly appreciate if, like so many, you start off with a 12-volt system and later realize that you've outgrown the wattage restrictions due to the unmanageable amperages involved in delivering those watts.
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2010
I didn't really need a freezer. I just wanted to see if sunlight could really be turned into ice. My friend talked me into getting some solar panels from Harbor Freight and I wasn't excited about using them to run lights or radios or some other pedestrian thing. Part of the attraction of solar is that if the power goes out you still have some electricity. We don't lose power very often in central Florida, but we did have a hurricane a few years ago that actually put the grid down for several days, not just several hours. It was then that I realized the most precious thing when you lose the grid is cooling, not heating. Anyone who does camping likely has enough equipment and fuel to cook food for days with what you normally have on hand. The rub is cooling and losing all the food in the fridge. The milk, the eggs. Ice was the first thing that sold out in our grocery stores and it didn't get replenished. Thus, I thought a freezer would be an awesome thing to have in an emergency. You could make your own ice and have lots of frozen food of every variety. Mostly though, I just thought it would be cool beyond belief to run a freezer off solar panels. There aren't many choices out there, so I ordered this Sunzdanzer. 5.8 cubic feet is plenty of room. I have run this thing for a couple of years now, and I am impressed. You can expect temperatures to be stable at about 6 degrees Fahrenheit. That's cold enough to freeze anything but ice cream. I think ice cream prefers to be about 0 degrees, so ice cream in this unit will unfortunately be a little too soft. But everything else is great. Popsicles, Lean Cuisines, steak, fish, bread, frozen vegetables all are frozen hard and stay that way. Plus, this unit is extremely quiet. When it is running, the most you can hear is a faint trickling of water sound. Never a motor sound. The engineering is very impressive. One more caveat about the temperature. My results are based on the freezer being indoors with normal indoor temps. If you have this unit out in the garage with super hot temps (like my garage) I have no idea what the freezer would be capable of, but it would be tougher on the unit. The unit came very well packaged and was delivered by an 18 wheeler tractor trailer from New Mexico. It wasn't very heavy either. The unit runs only off 12 volt or 24 volt, so it is totally engineered for solar which is great. I will offer a couple of nit picks, but don't take them to heart, they are small things really. First, there are three baskets that can lay just inside the top of the unit giving you the ability to compartmentalize a bit. You end up with an arrangement like a box of chocolates -- you can remove the top layer of items by removing the baskets and get to the bottom layer of food pretty quickly. What I didn't like was the little handle brackets that hang onto the top ledge of the freezer interior -- the brackets slip out of position and collapse making you reset them. That is chronic but just an annoyance. The other is the light bulb inside. It is a 24 v bulb and is rather dim when used with 12 v. And you can't find a 12 v. bulb like this anywhere - even the manufacturer doesn't have them. The resulting interior light is enough, but only barely. Overall, though I am very impressed with this freezer and recommend it to you.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
After months of internal debate, I finally sprang for one of these about six months ago. So far I'm very glad that I did.

I use it at a rustic, off-grid cabin. I have a tiny solar system there -- 60 watts of amorphous panels and 12-volt batteries with a total capacity of 205 amp hours. When I got the fridge, I planned to only run it when I was at the cabin. In reality, I haven't turned it off yet although I do turn the thermostat up and run it at around 45 degrees in order to save power when I'm not there. The spec sheet rating for power consumption seems to be accurate -- I don't remember exactly but it rates it at something like 6.5 A/h per day at 78 degrees and no openings. In mid-summer it draws about 5 A/h per day when I am not there, meaning thermostat turned up and zero openings. When I am there, it draws in the range of 10-15 A/h per day with normal usage and adding of warm stuff. It draws about 3 amps when the compressor is actually running. I track the power consumption using a "Watt's up" meter (just do an Amazon search, it's another item I highly recommend).

As an item of potential interest but unverified by me, I read in a review of the freezer that it's identical except for the thermostat. So you can change this from fridge to freezer and back just by swapping thermostats in it. Might be useful to someone.

Edit, 6/1/2015: I am still very happy with this refrigerator. I quit turning the thermostat up when I leave, and keep it on normal cold temp all the time now. It works better for me this way, because I don't have a big power draw to cool the fridge down right when I get to the cabin. Absolutely the only issue I have had is that because there's no ventilation in it, moisture can be a problem. Over time, water will pool in the bottom of the fridge and some things will get moldy, especially bottle caps on condiments and things that I leave in it all summer. I have solved this 100% by getting two Eva-Dry 333's which I rotate so that there is always one in the fridge and I take the other home to plug in and dry out. Highly recommended if it fits your situation.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2013
My Sundanzer refrigerator failed shortly after the warranty ended. The company knew right away what the problem had to be- holes in the freon line- but they won't do anything about it. They told me to get a refrigerator repair person to fix it. When I called one he told me that they must be using cheap freon lines that are defective, and that the holes can be tiny and impossible to find. And if the holes are in the line that is imbedded inside the insulation, it is not possible to fix it. This was not a cheap fridge and I am so disapointed. I have one of their freezers as well and it is doing fine- but obviously some of the freon lines are defective. I wish the company would stand behind their products but they don't.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
The Sundanzer refrigerator/freezers are good product. However, try to get one fixed or someone who knows how it operates (from the main office) will get you nowhere plus a big runaround from Billy Amos. Getting replacement parts is another issue. Their customer service is almost non-existent. If you buy one...you are on your own.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2013
Bought refrigerator and freezer. Freezer failed in less than 100 days. Fridge looks to be showing signs of failure as well. Of about 90 units in our community in Mexico, a good 25% have failed. Sundanzer will not take phone calls, will not return phone calls. Do not believe their statement that they stand behind their product.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
Got the largest size Sundanzer freezer about 2 years ago. Setup was a breeze. Used a 12 v solar battery with 2- 130w solar panels for.charging the battery. Freezer worked from the get go but was not freezing. It basically was working like a fridge instead of a freezer. Even with the thermostat turned up all the way. As such, the inside temperature could not go below 5 degree centigrade. My wife who had little faith of the idea of a solar freeze replacing a normal freezer mocked my wasted money. Not to be deterred, I got in touch with Sundanzer. They stood by their product, after confirming tgeserial.number of the thermostat, they apologized that there was an obvious factory error as the installed thermostat was for fridges and not freezers. They immediately mailed me the correct thermostat at no cost and without even confirming my receipt or place of purchase. That's what I call standing by your product. Freezer is working like a charm now. Even if there is no sunlight for 3 days, the single 200AH 12 solar battery continues to power the freezer. What a peace of mind purchase. I highly recommend this product
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2014
I bought a refrig and freezer 5 yrs ago and I too am having the same problem as the other person. They know the problem but will not stand behind the product. These are expensive units and if you live internationally, it is even a larger problem. I loved the efficiency of the unit when it worked, but am so disappointed in the fact that in less than 5 yrs of operation, it is not a fixable problem. They supposedly have now corrected the problem in the new units, but that does not do those of us any good who already have one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2015
If you live in Florida or any other area with high lightning probability or high humidity - look at other options. We purchased the largest Sundanzer fridge and later two 8 cu ft freezers. Bought the fridge first. Then the two freezers as the fridge seemed to work well with our small solar system. The refrigerant lines on the fridge failed shortly after the warranty expired as mentioned by others here. Was told it was due to high humidity and condensation. The two freezers lasted longer because they were frozen with no liquid accumulation in the bottom. Last week we had a very near lightning stike that induced current backfeed in many of our appliances and solar system. Our two freezers were reduced to coolers with lights. Such a large investment and too much food to find a new place to keep frozen. Composted a lot of thawed food. Looking into dehydration for a possible answer. Sundanzer suggests shipping the units back to them for repair.
Cheaper to buy a 110V freezer and run a generator when needed - I can get the generator or 110 freezer repaired locally.

Addendum: Currently communicating with Billy Amos of Sundanzer. He says we can replace the controller module on the ones that have a Danfos or Sencop Compressor - not a difficult repair and that they can be ordered through our dealer. One of our freezers is not a Danfos or Sencop, so I am waiting to hear if the controller module for that unit can be obtained as well. Will update as I learn more about this. The freezers have served us well until now....

The continuing saga - Billy Amos at Sundanzer advised that the only component that is usually damaged by lightning is easily replaced by most users with some knowledge of simple electrical devices. The control module was available for both units we purchased and I was able to order through The Solar Biz, where we purchased our freezers. Hopefully, they will make our appliances functional again.

7/6/15 Happy to report the order was made for the controllers for the two freezers that had stopped functioning. Today my husband was able to replace one of the bad ones with the new one and the unit is now working. Will replace the other tomorrow. Service from both Solar Biz and Sundanzer was courteous and prompt. Fortunately we are accustomed to making our own repairs when possible so all is back to normal. End of review.
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