The Propane Refrigerator vs. Solar Fridges

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When choosing an off grid refrigerator, there are many things to consider. The biggest decision being; should your power source be propane or solar?

To ultimately decide on either propane or solar, you may want to answer these questions first:

  • Which is less problematic?
  • How long do they last?
  • Which is most efficient?
  • And which is most cost effective overall?

With these questions in the forefront of our minds, we aim to answer them in this article. There is a lot to unpack, so let’s get started.

So if you happen to live off-grid year round or even if you are only off-grid occasionally throughout the year with perhaps a summer cabin, fishing or hunting camp. You definitely need a refrigerator for your cold food storage. Hauling ice is a hassle, not to mention it is expensive! But what direction do you go? Should you buy a propane refrigerator or a solar one? This is a common question folks have. Our team has spent many years selling both types of refrigerators, and we’ve collected data from both sides of the isle.  Our opinion is this: the propane refrigerator is much more straightforward to use, and it is easy to maintain. Additional benefits of propane refrigeration are that it is much more durable, as well as overall a propane unit is more efficient, and cost effective than solar. Hopefully, this article will prove itself useful to you as you ponder which direction to go.

Simplicity

Propane refrigerators are simple.  They are decidedly straightforward in their operation.  A gas fridge has a cooling unit operated by a pilot light.  In simple terms, this cooling unit and flame make up the whole system! The cooling unit continues to cycle the cooling vapors using the pilot light.  There are very few components to ever malfunction. Plus, propane units do not require sunlight! Generally, the service on a propane refrigerator involves cleaning the burner box…which is easy!  The setup is simple too; just attach your gas line onto the 3/8” male flare screw fitting on the back of the fridge, light the pilot light and you’re good to go!

In contrast, solar refrigerators use a compressor system made up of many different components and electrical pieces.  Solar refrigerators require compressors, refrigerant solution, solar panels, batteries, controllers and other electrical wires and components to make the refrigerator run properly–not to mention the requirement for sunlight…and lots of it!  The point here is that within an electrical refrigerator (which is essentially what a solar refrigerator is) there are many parts and pieces that could wear out, go bad or malfunction leaving your refrigerator totally useless…plus, you can’t control the sun and with solar you need a steady supply of sunshine!

Longevity

Next, propane fridges just last longer than solar fridges. Today’s EZ Freeze propane refrigerator is lasting upwards of 20 to 30 years.  Occasionally, a thermocouple or a thermostat needs to be replaced but even if you have no technical skills, you will be able to change them out yourself! Plus, EZ Freeze fridges come with a maintenance video as well. Generally, all you need is a wrench or a screwdriver to change out these parts. This proves especially useful when living off-grid, where tools and maintenance services are scarce. Plus, the parts are very easy to get your hands on because they are made in the USA.

Solar refrigerators last as long as the “normal” electric refrigerator you may have in your “on-grid” home.  Some can last more than 10 years, BUT when they do stop working or malfunction, getting them fixed is very involved. You may not find the parts you need and it may require taking the fridge to a service repair establishment.  The last thing you want to do while living off the grid is to spend your time and energy fixing and troubleshooting appliances. Your valuable time will be better spent tending to the other chores and necessities that come with living off-grid.

Efficiency

Efficiency is also a consideration when deciding between propane and solar.  Solar systems are expensive. The panels alone cost $10,000 to $20,000 and up from there. This doesn’t even include the battery!  Batteries can cost $5,000 to $7,000. Also, it is recommended that you have a backup generator (thousands of dollars) for those gloomy months when the sun is not shining in order to charge your batteries.  Let’s remember, the generator requires fuel and adds additional variables that can malfunction or fail.

Cost-effectiveness

So let’s break this down a bit:

Let’s say a solar system with panels, batteries and a backup generator costs a very conservative $20,000. Your fridge works off of this solar system at no monthly cost.

An all off-grid home, run with propane, has a propane refrigerator, propane stove and gas lights. The fridge, on average, will consume 1.5 gallons of propane a week.  That’s roughly 80 gallons of propane a year to run the fridge. Propane at an average of $2.00 a gallon will cost you $160 a year. Powering your lights and oven via propane will cost a little bit more.  If we tripled this cost to include propane lights and an oven/range, costs would be roughly $480 a year. That means it would take 42 years to make up for the cost of a $20,000 solar system. This does NOT factor in the fuel for the generator, or new batteries every 5 years, nor the maintenance expenses for the solar system.  As you can see the cost difference is too significant to argue when contemplating the two types of off-grid energy.

The Propane / Solar Synergy

Let’s not throw solar out the window all together.   Solar power as a whole, is a wonderful option and provides you with power needed to run other useful devices (i.e. lights, computer, cell phone).  If you do install a solar system, we want to help your solar system run as efficiently and for as long as possible. How do we do this? By removing those appliances that put heavy strain on your solar batteries. This simply allows for your other important items in your home, like the television, dishwasher and music player, to continue to work.  So, the best way to help your solar system run more efficiently is to remove heavy power consuming appliances from the solar grid entirely. Using a propane refrigerator and a propane stove will aid in this effort tremendously.

Choose a long established company

Now that we have determined how easy set up and maintenance of a propane fridge is, along with identifying the considerable low cost of running it, and additionally its longevity and power saving ability; let’s discuss another trend we have noticed: solar refrigerator companies seem to come and go.  The life span of these companies seem to be short. Which can certainly make finding parts and service locations very difficult. Please don’t misunderstand, this is not the case with all solar refrigerator manufacturers – even some propane refrigerator companies have left the market. However, as a whole, the propane refrigerator manufacturers stand the test of time.  

In the early to mid-1900’s Servel was the biggest propane refrigerator manufacturer.  Their units can still be found working in homes all over the world today! Since propane refrigerators were first on the market in the 1930’s, the science of the absorption cooling unit has proven its reliability through the test of time.  Whether you use natural gas or propane – the necessary combustion for the cooling unit has proven to work seamlessly over the years in creating the energy needed to heat the cooling unit solution. Our new units such as the EZ-Freeze propane refrigerator not only use the same technology and have the same longevity, but run on half of the propane of those refrigerators of old.  EZ-Freeze refrigerators only burn, on average, 1.5 gallons a week, per year.

EZ Freeze fridges are extensively tested in hot rooms, under extreme heat and humidity, which the solar refrigerators would not be able to keep up with.  The EZ Freeze brand propane fridges are safe, durable, and can be transported laying down; on their left side! You can’t do that with your solar fridge, as that is too dangerous!

Warranty

We also take pride in our 7 year warranty on the cooling unit, which is unheard of in the industry and this duration of warranty remains unmatched.  Not only is the warranty far superior to other propane manufacturers but EZ Freeze ranks #1 for any refrigerator, including solar.

Final Words

In conclusion, a well-made propane refrigerator from EZ Freeze will not only last you upwards of 20 to 30 years but it will save you time, money and is virtually hassle free. Our experience in the off-grid industry has taught us that solar power is useful and can provide power where there are no other options but when considering your two major appliances: the refrigerator and the stove, propane generated power is hands down the wiser investment.

 

Setting up your gas refrigerator

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setting-up-propane-fridge

After you bring your new gas refrigerator home, it is time for the install. In order to ensure a safe and proper installation in your home, it is highly recommended that you hire a trained professional. If you decide to do the install yourself, Warehouse Appliance wants to make sure you get your new fridge up and running properly while staying safe.

Before you begin, it is important to note that any gas fumes should be dealt with quickly. If you smell gas, open all of the windows and doors in your home, do not turn any electrical switches off or on, and put out any open flames immediately. Call your gas provider right away.

Connect Gas Line
Before connecting the gas line, ensure you have enough flex line to move the fridge away from the wall. This will allow enough room in the event your fridge needs servicing and for cleaning. It is good practice to connect the flex line to an on/off valve.

Test for Leaks
You must test all connections for gas leaks before you ignite the gas unit. You can use a soapy water method or professional solutions such as a “Gas Leak Detector” to test the connection. This is accomplished by putting on the soapy or professional solution and looking for bubbles. Once you have ignited the unit, you should do a secondary test to ensure there are no leaks.

Check Gas Pressure
The design specifications for all EZ Freeze propane refrigerators state the proper pressure that the fridge operates on. The pressure can be checked by your gas supplier during installation. You can also use a manometer to check the pressure yourself.

Level
Because this type of gas refrigerator requires gravity to operate properly, it is important that the fridge remains level. If the refrigerator is not level, it may not run at peak efficiency.

Ventilate
It is important to position the refrigerator so there is enough space for heat to properly ventilate behind and above the unit. Without proper ventilation, the fridge could produce a heat buildup negatively affecting performance, or it may create a draft which could blow out the burner.

When properly installed, your gas refrigerator will run reliably and efficiently. If you would like a skilled technician to install your new fridge or if you experience any issues during setup, call Warehouse Appliance at 928-636-1955.

For additional set-up information, please see our article tilted “How to set up your new gas refrigerator for proper operation

How to set up your new gas refrigerator for proper operation

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Setting propane/gas pressure

It is very important that the gas pressure be set correctly. Too high or too low of gas pressure may lead to poor performance or permanent damage to your gas refrigerator. Proper gas pressure for a LPG propane system is 11 inches of water column. Your gas supplier will test and set the correct pressure for you. It is possible to do it yourself. Check out our “How to test gas pressure” page.

Burping the Propane Gas Refrigerator or Natural Gas Refrigerator
If your new Diamond gas refrigeratorsEZ Freeze gas refrigerators, or most other gas refrigerators, has been laid down during shipping or the unit is not cooling correctly within the first day or two of operation, it is possible that the unit may need to be burped. This process releases an air lock and allows the chemicals to return to the proper levels within the ammonia absorption unit. The process varies depending on the brand of gas refrigerator you own. For most models, turn the unit off and let the unit cool. Disconnect the gas supply line. Carefully rotate the unit upside down so it stands on it’s top. Rotate the gas refrigerator from side to side not front to back. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 minutes. Rotate back to it’s upright position standing on the legs. Let the unit sit in this position for another 15 minutes before lighting. Reconnect the gas supply and test for leaks.

Burping for Danby / Consul propane refrigerator models, turn the unit off and let the unit cool. Disconnect the gas supply line. Carefully rotate the unit counter clockwise to it’s left side. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the unit counter clockwise upside down so it stands on it’s top. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the unit counter clockwise to it’s right side. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate counter clockwise back to it’s upright position standing on the legs.

Tips for operating your Gas Refrigerator or Gas Freezer
Once the gas fridge / freezer is operating, let it chill down for approximately 12 hours before loading with food. You will notice the freezer will chill first. When the freezer portion is significantly chilled down, then the fridge section will start to get cold. This is the nature of the gravity operation built into the system. The refrigerator section is the first to be effected by any change to the thermostat, ambient air temperature, humidity, or change of door opening cycles. Load warm or room temperature foods in smaller portions a couple hours apart. Let the unit stabilize for a few days prior to making adjustments to the thermostat. Check the refrigerator compartment temperature first thing in the morning to get an accurate reading of the thermostat setting. We suggest to use an external thermometer to monitor the temperatures. Do not overload the unit with room temperature liquids such as large jugs of water. Load the freezer with Ice trays or objects to be frozen prior to bed time. This way the unit will have all night to recover. Aluminum Ice Cube Trays make ice much faster than plastic trays.

Be sure the gas fridge is level in both directions since the absorption system works from gravity, it is vital to the proper flow rate that the unit is level.

Be sure the gas refrigerator has proper ventilation an all sides. Most manufacturers will have recommendations within the owners manual. Minimums are usually 2″ left and right sides and 8″ above with 2″ at rear. Intake and exhaust ventilation is also recommended. Always turn the gas valve on slowly to protect the regulator and/or thermostat from a surge of pressure. Test for leaks with a solution of soapy water and brush around all gas connections before lighting the gas refrigerator.

If you still have questions about the set up of your propane refrigerator, please call one of our technicians at 928-636-1955 or contact us.

EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerator Controls – Lighting Instructions

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The controls of the EZ Freeze propane refrigerator are located on the front of the unit at the bottom. All are hidden by the door or a removable panel. The controls include the Thermostat Control (shown as “Temp” within the gas refrigerator parts image below) which controls the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer compartment. It adjusts the amount of refrigerant running through the system by controlling the high and low flame of the burner. The refrigerant of the absorption system is an ammonia and water solution that flows via gravity from the top of the freezer to the refrigerator section below and absorbing all the hot air. The higher the temperature control is set the more the flame will stay on high and produce more refrigerant, therefore making the interior colder.

The Gas Safety Shut-Off Valve on the EZ Freeze propane refrigerator (shown as “Gas” in the image) is magnetically-controlled by an electromagnet that is feed millivolts via the thermocouple. The thermocouple is heated by the flame and produces the small amount of electricity to power the magnet. If the flame is extinguished and the thermocouple does not sense heat, then the electromagnet will release and shut-off the gas supply. This prevents any unburned gas from escaping into the room.

The Piezo Igniter of the EZ Freeze Propane Refrigerator (shown as “Spark” in the image) is a self-powered, non-electric spark generator. It’s very similar to what propane BBQ’s use. By pushing this button, the Piezo Igniter will produce a spark to light the flame.

 

Lighting An EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerator

The First Time After the set-up of the unit is complete, use the following procedure to light the burner. First time lighting may take longer than usual due to the air that may be in the gas lines.

Turn on the gas valve at the rear of the gas refrigerator

To start the gas refrigerator, turn the thermostat knob “Temp” (Thermostat) to the #2 setting

Push and hold “Gas” (Gas Safety Valve) button, and then…

Press the “Spark ” (Piezo Igniter) button continuously 5 to 10 times to light burner. Confirm the flame is lit by viewing through the flame “Viewer”. It should be possible to hear a slight turbulent noise from the flame. If the burner is lit, continue holding the “Gas ” button for 5-15 seconds. Release the “Gas” button and confirm the burner is still lit. If the burner does not light, repeat steps 1 through 4.

EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerators controls - Images by Warehouse Appliance, experts of off-grid appliances and gas fridge sales and service

We recommend that owners take a good look at the flame upon initial start up and note its size and color for future reference. It is good practice to visually check the flame for this size and color upon every start up.

Hand Lighting….

If for some reason the unit will not light with the piezo ignition or the igniter is failing to spark, it is possible to hand light the burner. This usually requires two people. Simply use the above procedure and replace “Spark ” Button with a person at the burner with a lighter.

This type of refrigerator uses manual operation. Setting the temperature information is here and the manual defrosting information is here.

The EZ Freeze Brand of gas refrigerators feature top performance and the best quality! Contact Warehouse Appliance for more information on our gas fridges or any of our off-grid appliances.

Peerless Premier Gas Range Feature Chart

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Are you in the market for a gas range? Find your desired gas range specifications on this detailed chart. Some models are true non-electric appliance or off-grid appliance for homes with no or limited electricity. Peerless Premier has been producing gas appliances made in the USA for over 80 years.

For additional questions or pricing on the models below please email via this form.

Peerless Premier Off-Grid Propane Stove/Oven FAQ

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Peerless Gas Off Grid Stove/Range – Questions and Answers

There are many things to consider when living without power.  What kind of stove/oven/range/cooktop to purchase is definitely one to consider before making a large investment. We’ve answered some common questions below about our Peerless Premier ranges.  Peerless premier propane battery spark ranges are the best option in off-grid living.

Q. Do the Peerless Premier Ranges operate from Propane (LPG) or Natural Gas?

A. All Peerless Premier Ranges are shipped to operate from Natural gas. All the units come with the instructions and parts to convert to Propane (LPG) gas. This is done during the installation process and is very easy.

Q. What type of ignition should I use when l don’t have power?Peerless Gas Range FAQ

A. Battery spark, electronic, gas pilot and glow bar ignition are all options when purchasing a stove or range.  It is important to know what type will work best when living off the grid.  Many people do not realize that a typical big name gas range purchased at a big box store still needs electricity to function. It will draw electricity to ignite the burners and will draw large amounts of electricity to heat the oven. Below is helpful information to understand the difference between the ignition types.

Q. What is Battery Spark Ignition?

A.  Battery Spark Ignition is the newest generation of off-grid ignition for ranges. Battery spark ignition is replacing gas pilot ignition. This ignition requires 8 AA batteries to power an electronic sparker on the range top as well as in the oven burner. This ignition can also be lit with a match ion the range top burners as well as in the oven in case batteries are not available or out of juice.  The best stove for off grid use is a propane battery spark ignition stove. Peerless premier offers off grid stoves, ovens and ranges that use propane with battery spark ignition.

Q. What is Electronic Ignition?

Peerless premier offers ranges in electronic ignition. Electronic Ignition is a very low wattage draw only during the spark phase of the range top burners or oven burner. This system works great for solar systems due to the low wattage draw. The Electronic Ignition type burners can also be lit with a match in the case that no electricity is available. Simply turn the burner to low and light The oven can be lit the same way and will operate normally through the entire cooking process until it is turned off.

Q. What is Gas Pilot ignition?

A. Electricity is not needed in this system. Gas Pilot Ignition is the trusty standard with a continuously burning pilot flame.

Q. What is Glow Bar Ignition?

A. Glow Bar Ignition is used by most brand name range manufacturers to ignite the oven during the cooking process. The glow bar draws a very high current to ignite the burner which puts a large load on solar systems. This lighting process repeats itself many times during one cooking cycle to control the heat range of the set temperature in the oven.  The oven is useless without electricity, since the glow bar cannot be lit with a match.  A glow bar ignition is not a good option when living off the grid.

Please contact us for any other questions you may have about an off grid range, oven or stove!

Full-time use of a gas refrigerator in your home

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Full-time use of a gas refrigerator in the homeWhile many propane refrigerators have been used in RVs, cabins and vacation homes, there is a growing number of households that have made a complete transition from electric to gas refrigerators. Warehouse Appliance discusses full-time use of gas refrigerators in your home.

The initial startup up rules are basically the same for the full-time gas refrigerator user as they are for those who supplement with gas:

  • Don’t fill up the fridge with any food or liquids that are not already cold or frozen.
  • Keep the door of the fridge closed as much of the time as possible.
  • Set the temperature setting to the maximum.

Make sure you adhere to the above rules when you bring groceries home from your regular shopping trips. It is always best to load the food goods in smaller amounts. Try to do this at timed intervals. Ambient temperature food should be loaded at no more than 10 pounds every 2 hours. Also, make sure to stabilize your temperature and thermostat setting. Keep your eye on the refrigerator interior temperatures. In a gas refrigerator, the thermostat setting will mostly affect the refrigerator compartment temperatures. The freezer will not have a thermostat.

Temperature setting is accomplished by the thermostat that is at the very bottom on the outside front near or behind the kick plate. The control panel is labeled with numbers that are merely a reference and do not correspond with the actual temperature.

Whether you go with a gas refrigerator part-time or full-time, Warehouse Appliance is here to help and answer any of your questions. If you’re thinking about purchasing a propane refrigerator or have questions about the one you already own, call the gas appliance experts at Warehouse Appliance today at 928-636-1955.

Why you need a propane refrigerator

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Warehouse Appliance is the leader in propane refrigerators and has the best warranty in the business.Who knows why you need a propane refrigerator better than the leader in propane refrigerators? As the industry leader, Warehouse Appliance, can help you select the right propane fridge for your cabin, vacation home, RV or hunting camp.

Reasons to own a gas fridge

  • Gas refrigerators are quiet – Since gas refrigerators don’t have a compressor they are completely quiet.
  • You live off grid – With no conventional means of energy to power an electric refrigerator, you’re limited to where you can live, but a gas refrigerator doesn’t confine your choices. Unlike electricity, no matter where you are, you can transport and easily store the fuel necessary for operating a gas fridge.
  • Your location is prone to power outages – For some of us, every year brings tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and floods. Even in the city, homeowners experience power outages – but it won’t matter if you have a propane refrigerator. Gas refrigerators keep on running, keeping your food items cold and safe. If you’ve suffered extended power outages, you know that replacing a refrigerator full of spoiled food is expensive.
  • Gas refrigerators are efficient – Not only do they run colder than a conventional fridge, but they have far fewer running parts than a compressor system. Fewer parts mean fewer failures. In fact, there are virtually no moving parts in a propane gas refrigeration system.

Considering all these reasons, anyone can see that choosing a gas fridge is a smart choice. No matter where you live, whether in the heart of the city, off the grid, or on the road, Warehouse Appliance can help you select the right size fridge to meet your family’s needs. For more information call Warehouse Appliance today at 928-636-1955.

Using propane in your home

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Propane for appliances in your homeDid you know that there is an efficient, safe, and reliable alternative to electricityfor many appliances? Warehouse Appliance would like to tell you about using propane in your home.

Because of its safety, efficiency, and dependability, many people are using propane to go off the grid. Others use propane to supplement the electricity in their home. Propane is also a very affordable solution that’s ideal for families who want to minimize their carbon footprint and go a little greener.

There are many benefits you will receive by using propane in your home. Here are several:

  • You will save money. Heating your water with propane rather than electricity will save you approximately 30 percent of your water heating costs per year. A propane clothes dryer will save you about 50 percent compared with the use of an electric dryer. You’ll save plenty by using a gas refrigerator, too.
  • Propane is safe. Propane tanks are 20 times more puncture resistant than those used for gasoline, ethanol, and methanol. Home propane tanks are often buried. If you do experience a propane leak, the added odorant (similar to the smell of rotten eggs) will help you detect it so you can get it repaired.
  • Versatility. When people think of propane, outdoor grills often come to mind. but propane fuels many household appliances: home heating or your boiler, your fireplace, clothes dryer, range, refrigerator and your oven can all run on propane. If your home is equipped to use propane, you have a wide range of choices available.
  • Propane is environmentally safe. Propane is listed as a clean fuel in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992. In fact, propane burns cleaner than any other fossil fuel.

Warehouse Appliance would be happy to answer any questions you may have about gas refrigerators and propane appliances. We are here to help you as you consider the advantages of using propane in your home. Call the gas appliance experts at Warehouse Appliance today at 928-636-1955.

Why people choose propane refrigerators

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Warehouse Appliance can help you choose the right propane refrigerator for your home or cabin.Have you heard of propane refrigerators but don’t really understand why people choose them? Warehouse Appliance, the leader in propane refrigerators, can help you understand why and how to select a propane refrigerator that is perfect for remote cabins, vacation homes, hunting camps, or your RV.

Here are some of the reasons people choose propane refrigerators.

  • You live off the grid.
  • You don’t like the noise an electric refrigerator makes.
  • You have considered the efficiency of a gas fridge.
  • Your home is subject to natural disasters and power outages.

One of the most basic necessities in life is food. The need for food storage is practical, and how food is stored affects your health. Cold food storage when done properly is important for healthy living. Consider all these reasons and you will see why a gas fridge is right for you.

All refrigerators must run from an energy source. One of the gas fridge advantages is how easy it is to store propane and unlike electricity, it can be transported. While most homeowners run the risk of losing electricity during a thunderstorm, the propane refrigerator will continue running, keeping your perishables fresh.

One power outage of more than two days can completely decimate your food supply in your electric fridge. With the cost of food within the fridge being upwards of $500, it pays to have a gas fridge as a backup unit.

The myth that a gas refrigerator does not cool as well as an electric is not true. Not only will they run colder than an electric unit, the absorption unit has far fewer parts than an electric compressor system. Fewer parts mean less chance of a failure. Other than the thermostat, there are virtually no moving parts within the propane gas refrigeration system.

Warehouse Appliance has the largest inventory of gas refrigerators in the U.S., and we can help you find the right gas fridge for you. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about gas refrigerators and propane appliances. We are here to help you as you consider the advantages of using propane in your home. Call the gas appliance experts at Warehouse Appliance today at 928-636-1955.