A Refrigerator has been the most useful and essential appliance for the household. We cannot even store our food without a refrigerator at our home. To operate and use a refrigerator efficiently, you must know how a refrigerator works.
On Which Principle does a Refrigerator Work?
The working principle of a refrigerator is simple. It involves the removal of heat from a space to another. Eventually, it makes the working space cold. This is the basis of the refrigeration cycle. Read how a refrigerator works below.
The process starts with the compressor. In this cycle, a circulating working fluid or refrigerant enters the compressor as a vapor. In the compressor, it gets superheated. The superheated vapor travels through the condenser and dissipates the superheat outside the refrigerator. So, the room you keep in the refrigerator gets heated. When the vapor leaves the condenser, it becomes liquid.
Next, the liquid refrigerant passes through an expansion valve. Here the pressure of the refrigerant decreases. Ultimately, it passes through the Evaporator where the warm air is cooled down by the cold refrigerant. For this reason, the refrigerator chamber gets cold. When the refrigerant leaves the evaporator, it gets vapor again. The vapor then passes through the compressor again and completes the cycle. This is how a refrigerator works.
Here is an excellent video by Learn Engineering on the basic working principle of a refrigerator.
Parts of Refrigerator & Functions
A refrigerator has two storage compartments – One for items requiring refrigeration and other frozen items. These compartments are surrounded by a series of heat-exchanging pipes. These are hidden in the walls of the refrigerator. At the bottom, the compressor is placed. Read the following details of Parts of Refrigerator & Function of each one.
A compressor is a device that works mechanically to increase the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume. It is very similar to a motor. However, a motor cannot handle multiple phases of a substance together. Whereas, a compressor is able to handle liquid and gaseous phases together. Nowadays, inverter compressors are emerging rapidly in the market. These are very efficient in minimizing power consumption.
The condenser is a very essential component of a refrigerator as it condenses the heated refrigerant into liquid form. Without it, a refrigerator won’t work. It consists of coiled tubes with external fins and is located at the backside of the refrigerator. With such a structure of the condenser, the dissipation of heat gets most efficient.
3. Expansion/ Throttle valve
The Expansion valve controls the flow of refrigerant. The main objective of using such a valve is to decrease the pressure of the refrigerant before directing it to Evaporator. This is a small device that is very sensitive to the change in temperature of the refrigerant.
A refrigerator cools because of heat inside the refrigerator gets transferred to the surroundings. The evaporator works exactly for this cause. It consists of finned tubes with high thermal conductivity to maximize heat transfer. A fan blows out the heated air to the outside. In this process, the refrigerant turns into vapor and flows towards the compressor.
5. Temperature Controlling Device
We can see from the Refrigeration Cycle that heat is taken away from the refrigerator. Eventually, it cools down the working space. However, we need control of the temperature to decide how cool the refrigerator should be. For this purpose, a temperature control device or thermostat is built with a refrigerator. The sensor of the thermostat is connected to the evaporator. When the refrigerator reaches the set temperature, the electrical connection to the compressor is cut down. As a result, the cooling system stops. When the temperature rises again, the compressor automatically starts up.
6. Voltage Stabilizer
Fluctuating voltage may have a bad effect on the refrigerator. The get a steady voltage, a voltage stabilizer is needed. Some refrigerators have an inbuilt stabilizer. Your refrigerator might not have an inbuilt stabilizer. In this case, you should buy a separate stabilizer to protect your fridge. This V-Guard VG 50 Voltage Stabilizer might be a good option for you.
7. Defrosting System
The defrosting system is an essential integral part of a refrigerator. There are two types of defrosting- Manual & Automatic. Most of the advanced Refrigerators are built with an Auto Defrosting System. However, Refrigerators with a lower budget might have a manual defrosting system. You should buy a refrigerator with an Auto Defrosting System to ease daily life.
8. Anti Fungal Gasket on Door
The refrigerator you choose should have an Antibacterial gasket built on the door opening. This type of gasket can be removed, cleaned and easily fitted on the door again. It prevents fungus development so that the fridge can give you healthier food every time.
9. Shelves and Ice Trays
The shelves and Ice trays are inbuilt. With an increase in the working volume inside the fridge, the number of shelves increases. With more number of shelves, you have more space inside the refrigerator. Similarly, the Ice trays also play a very important role when the concern is a freezer.
10. Water & Ice Dispenser
For most of the side by side refrigerators, Water Trays are provided. Double door and side by side refrigerators have such ice dispensers. These Ice dispensers ease out the handling of the Freezer.
Apart from these Top 10 Essential parts, there are a few more, which you might want to have with the refrigerator. Door Alarm, well-positioned Light, Digital Display are built with a Good High Rated Refrigerator like Samsung 253 L 4 Star Frost Free Double Door Refrigerator.
Though the Refrigerator Stand is not an integrated part of a refrigerator, it is essential. You must use a Refrigerator Stand to give well support and safety to the fridge. Brands like Samsung manufactures 5 in 1 convertible refrigerator that can handle the refrigerator and freezer separately with different control modes suitable for various operations.
Frequently Asked Questions
A refrigerator works on the refrigeration cycle. In short, heat is taken away from the working volume of a refrigerator by an evaporating substance called refrigerant with the help of a compressor, evaporator, condenser, and throttle/ expansion valve.
The main parts are a compressor, condenser, evaporator and throttle/ expansion valve. Apart from these, a temperature controlling device, voltage stabilizer (optional), defrosting system, water & ice dispensers (optional) are installed with most of the good refrigerators.
For a refrigerator, there are so many good products by some best brands that are excellent in performance, design. Among them, LG, Samsung, Whirlpool are the most reliable.
Apart from the great advantages, refrigerators have some remarkable disadvantages that you should be aware of. They are unfriendly for the environment. Many of the refrigerants like Freon are responsible for increasing holes in the ozone layer allowing ultraviolet radiation and creating other harmful effects in the earth’s atmosphere. If not disposed of properly, a refrigerator can be dangerous for the environment.
You should know the working principle of a refrigerator whether you already have one or planning to buy a new fridge. As described above, this is the basic principle of a refrigerator and you have learned how a refrigerator works. Knowing the essential parts of a refrigerator, operating and handling might have been easier for you now.
Soumya is the Editor-in-chief at Homeplace. Being an engineer by education with more than 6 years of working experience in various industries, he is an expert in this field of consumer products. Based on scientific analysis and research, he helps the Indian consumers with the best suggestions.