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The earth cellar A refrigerator that does not require electricity

The earth cellar: A refrigerator that does not require electricity

Today, we’re diving deep into an age-old solution that is making a comeback in the prepping community: the earth cellar.

What is an Earth Cellar?

Imagine stepping into your backyard, walking past a small mound covered in lush greenery, and lifting a door that leads you down into a cool, earthy space stocked with fruits, vegetables, and even dairy products. This isn’t a scene from a fantasy novel; it’s the reality of using an earth cellar, a natural refrigerator that doesn’t need a shred of electricity to function.

History and Basic Design

The concept of the earth cellar is simple yet ingenious. Traditional earth cellars are dug into the ground or into the side of a hill, capitalizing on the Earth’s natural insulation and cool temperature. These underground storage spaces have been used for centuries across the world, from the icy terrains of Scandinavia to the lush fields of England.

Why They Work So Well

The reason behind the effectiveness of an earth cellar is its use of the constant underground temperature. Below the frost line, the Earth maintains a consistent temperature that’s cool in summer and above freezing in winter, perfect for storing perishables. By harnessing this natural phenomenon, an earth cellar keeps food fresh for much longer than above-ground methods without the need for costly and energy-dependent refrigerators.


Building Your Own Earth Cellar

Creating an earth cellar doesn’t require advanced construction skills, but it does need careful planning and a bit of elbow grease. Here’s how I built mine, and how you can too.

Choosing the Right Location

First things first, you need to select a suitable spot. Look for a dry, well-drained area that’s accessible but out of direct sunlight. The north side of a building or under the shade of trees is ideal. You’ll also want to consider the water table; you don’t want to dig into soggy ground.

Materials and Tools

For my earth cellar, I used:

  • Shovels for digging
  • A wheelbarrow for transporting dirt
  • Wood or concrete for reinforcing the structure
  • Insulating materials like straw or foam
  • A sturdy door to seal the entrance

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Digging the Pit: Start by outlining the size of your cellar. Mine is about 10 feet deep and 8 feet wide, which is spacious enough to walk into and store several months’ worth of supplies.
  2. Reinforcing the Walls: Once the hole is dug, reinforce the walls with wood or concrete to prevent collapses. This step is crucial for safety and longevity.
  3. Insulation: Line the walls with straw bales or foam panels to enhance the cellar’s natural insulation.
  4. Installing the Door: The door should be heavy and well-sealed to maintain the internal temperature. I used an old freezer door for an extra layer of insulation.
  5. Ventilation: Ensure there’s a small ventilation system to prevent mold and to keep air circulating.

Living With an Earth Cellar

Having an earth cellar has transformed the way I store food. Not only does it save on electricity bills, but it also offers a reliable storage solution that keeps my supplies safe and fresh, no matter the season.

What to Store

You can store almost anything in an earth cellar. Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots thrive in the cool, dark environment, as do apples and cabbages. I also keep my homemade cheeses and cured meats down there, which age beautifully in the stable conditions.

Maintenance Tips

Maintaining an earth cellar is straightforward but essential. Regularly check for signs of dampness or pests, and keep the ventilation clear to avoid moisture build-up. It’s also a good idea to organize your supplies in a way that makes it easy to rotate stock and check on the condition of stored goods.


Building and using an earth cellar is a rewarding project that enhances your self-sufficiency and prepares you for times when modern conveniences might not be available. By following the steps outlined above, you can create a sustainable storage solution that will serve you for years to come. Join the growing number of preppers and homesteaders who are rediscovering the practical magic of the earth cellar. Start planning your project today and embrace the peace of mind that comes with knowing your food supply is secure and sustainable, no matter what the future holds.