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Refrigerators are an integral part of our modern lives, and we simply cannot imagine our lives without them. They keep our vegetables and fruits fresh and our food edible for a longer time. Earlier considered to be an asset of few people, refrigerators were the privilege of the wealthy. However, there is not a single kitchen that can function without a refrigerator today. It would be impossible to keep your food fresh for even a few hours if it is not kept in a refrigerator. And yes, you would never be able to enjoy your favorite frozen desserts. You cannot live without your refrigerator. But have you ever wondered how a refrigerator cools your food and drinks?
There is quite a bit of intricate equipment and thought that goes into the working of this invaluable appliance. But the mechanism is quite simple and easy to understand. Although we all use a refrigerator, not many of us would think about how exactly the refrigerator works to cool food and drinks unless it unexpectedly stops working. If something like that happens, a little knowledge on the subject will help you fix things yourself or at least correctly explain the problem to an expert on the phone.
● Why do we Refrigerate food?
By keeping food in a refrigerator, we remove the heat from foodstuffs and pass it outside. The refrigerator transfers heat from inside the fridge to outside, and it feels warm if you touch the back side of fridge. This continuous cooling slows down the degradation process and the growth of bacteria. By lowering the temperature inside, the refrigerator provides an optimum environment to store perishable food. It is also the best place to store different food products and keep them fresh for days, even months.
● The Principle behind Refrigeration
Let us understand the basic principle of the cooling system, and how it works in a refrigerator to cool food and drinks. The mechanism is very simple based on a simple principle that we are familiar with. If you place a burning hot rod near a cold liquid, the heat will pass from the rod to the liquid. This transfer of heat will lead to evaporation that eventually takes away the heat from the rod. Gases have the tendency of heating up when they are compressed and cooling down when they expand. A refrigerator uses this same technology along with some devices to keep your stuff fresh inside.
● Following are the Components of a Refrigerator:
- Condenser: The condenser is a copper tubing that is made to continuously release the heat from inside to outside the refrigerator. Since this heat produced inside must be absorbed, the condenser does this work. The condenser is set at the back of the refrigerator. There are also fans to cool the condenser coils. These fans are placed above the condenser for cooling.
- Compressor: It circulates refrigerant throughout the unit with a pump and motor. The refrigerant keeps the temperature of the surrounding air cool. The compressor is a very important part that consumes a lot of electricity. Located at the back of the refrigerator, it is run by an electric motor. It is an indispensable part of your fridge, without which, the refrigerator would be of no practical use.
- Refrigerant is a cooling liquid that that is made to spread inside the refrigerator. The compressor keeps this refrigerant going on with the help of an electric motor. The refrigerant keeps on recirculating and continuously carries out the cooling through all the internal parts of the refrigerator.
- The Evaporator: is a heat exchanger that plays an important part in reducing the temperature inside the unit. Usually made of aluminum or copper, it is located inside the refrigerator, and absorbs all the heat inside.
- The refrigerants absorb heat from the food and this heat is then cooled in the evaporator. The heat keeps getting absorbed by the compressor, and the cycle keeps on repeating. The sole purpose of the evaporator is to absorb the excessive heat from the food.
- The Expansion Device: Acting as an expansion device, a tube carries liquid refrigerant and cooling the gas. It is then turned back into a liquid.
- Diffuser: The diffuser in a refrigerator is made to regulate the flow of cold air from the freezer compartment into the refrigerator. It has a temperature sensor, using which, you can control the refrigerator thermostat. When the diffuser senses air in the refrigerator getting too warm, it will open the vents between the freezer and the refrigerator. This will maintain a stable temperature inside.
- Thermostat: The refrigerator needs a regulator to maintain the right temperature inside. For this, there is a thermostat, that connects directly to the evaporator. You will find a round knob inside, using which you can control the thermostat. This will keep the cooling cycle going on according to the requirement, so that you do not have to worry about how the refrigerator cools your food and drinks.
- There are many high-end refrigerators that come with a digital display screen. If you’re still confused about how a refrigerator cools food and drinks, bring home a refrigerator that has a digital display. You can adjust the temperature of these refrigerators easily because you can see it on the screen. Some models come with a temperature control knob, minus the digital display. However, they are as good as the others even without the display and you can easily maneuver the temperature with a few turns.
● How does a Refrigerator cool food and drinks?
A refrigerator works on the principles of condensation and evaporation. The condenser coils inside the system release heat in the form of hot gases so that the cool down. When they are cooled outside, these gases become liquid again and flows till it reaches the expansion valve inside the refrigerator. In the expansion valve, the liquid once again expands as it transforms into a gas. The refrigerant cools the air inside the refrigerator by moving through the evaporator coils and absorbing the heat from inside.
This cycle continues until a desired level of temperature is reached. When this happens, the compressor shuts off. If you open the door of the refrigerator and let in hit air, this will raise the temperature inside and switch on the compressor again. This means than if you open your fridge more often, your compressor will have more work to do. This will result in greater power consumption and an increase in your energy bills.
● Power Saving Methods
Originally, Chloro Floro Carbon was used in refrigerators. Chloro Floro carbon was later replaced by HCFC gas(hydro Chloro Floro Carbon) since it was harmful for the atmosphere. HCFC gas is the refrigerant or gas present in the coils of the refrigerator. The refrigerator uses Hydro Floro Carbon by converting it from liquid to gas and vice versa. This gas in the coils helps the refrigerator cools the food and drinks that you store in the fridge. If you seriously want to save energy and reduce your monthly energy bills, make sure you pick a refrigerator after checking its star ratings. Usually, those refrigerators with the most stars, i.e. 5-star rated refrigerators are the most energy-efficient. They consume the least energy, although they may be a little more expensive than the rest. If you find them to be too costly for your budget, settle for a 4-star refrigerator. It will also help you reduce energy consumption and save money on electricity bills. 5-star refrigerators however still remain the most energy efficient.