When was the refrigerator invented?


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Refrigerator is the most important appliance that makes our life smooth and easy. It keeps food fresh, cold and fruits juicy. You cannot imagine life at home without a refrigerator. It is not possible to keep food fresh and manage left-overs without a fridge/refrigerator. Everyday supplies like milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits and meat would rot if there were no refrigerator. It is difficult to go to the grocery store every morning just to get milk or eggs. Rotten food leads to sickness and suffering. What about the medicines? Life-saving injections and medicines would expire without refrigeration. Human life is precious and a refrigerator makes our life healthy and balanced. We can store juices, mixes, fish, vegetables and fruit without ever worrying about whether it is rotten. A refrigerator is an amazing invention.

Invention of refrigerators

Food preservation and prevention of foodborne illness are the main reasons for the entry of refrigerators into the kitchen. It is useful to store food as bacteria do not thrive at low temperatures. We don’t get sick and can maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet.

From ancient times people have used many ways to preserve food. Natural ice was abundant during winter and it was used for underground preservation. Ice blocks and storing food on ice in ice cellars have been around for centuries. Preservation of perishable items and food stock underground at low temperatures was a common practice in the olden days. Collecting ice in the winter and wrapping it in insulating materials like wooden boxes was a rigorous chore. Storage of food in these ice boxes has been the traditional way of refrigeration.

In 1720, Willian Cullen, a Scottish doctor invented the first refrigerator. He used liquid ethyl ether in a vacuum to show that on evaporation of liquids cooling can be achieved. Many inventors around the world have tried their hands at various ways of building the refrigerator. In 1805, Oliver Evans from America used vapor instead of a liquid for cooling. In 1820, liquefied ammonia was used for cooling the system.

The first refrigerator was invented in 1835 by Jacob Perkins. He used liquid ammonia in a vapor-compression cycle and went on to be known as the “father of the refrigerator” for his invention.

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In fact, the success of refrigeration was mainly because of its commercial use in operations. Meatpacking industries and breweries were the first to use refrigeration on a large scale which went on to become a booming business. Soon homes were ready to install one in the kitchens for food preservation. Refrigerators became the most important appliance to store food for a longer time to ensure health and safety for a good life. Today it is the most indispensable appliance all over the world. Refrigerator manufacturers are constantly looking at improving the design, adding more features, customization and environmental friendliness.


Refrigerants are the liquids used in refrigerators for cooling. They are circulated through the tubes and vaporized. Once the heat is released through the coils to the exterior, the gas is circulated back into a compressor that liquefies the vapor. This cycle is repeated for efficient cooling and becomes the backbone of a refrigerator.

Safety of refrigerators

Initially flammable liquids and gases were used in refrigerators which slowly became toxic or highly reactive leading to excessive heat dissipation and breakdowns. With the discovery of chlorofluorocarbons, scientists and manufacturers found a safe option. They used chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) as refrigerator coolants for many years. In recent times, extensive damage to the ozone layer has been attributed to these chlorofluorocarbons. Further studies led to better and potentially safer compounds. The acceptable use of hydro fluorocarbons has resulted in its popular use as coolants today. However, it is not the most ideal option.

Benefits of large commercial refrigerators

Installation of large refrigerators in shops and stores is a blessing. Perishable items can be stored for a long time without any spoilage. Fresh food from various parts of the world can be exported or imported to enjoy at your convenience because of the refrigerators. We can enjoy exotic fruits and vegetables from anywhere in the world. This also reduces the burden of food wastage and loss. Millions around the world can get fresh food or packaged frozen food during difficult times due to refrigerators. Imagine going to school or work with home-made fresh food that turns bad at lunchtime. You will remain hungry the whole time. However, a refrigerator at school or work is useful for all. You and your friends could keep your delicious lunches in the refrigerator and eat it fresh at lunchtime.

Residential refrigerators

Initially refrigerators for home use was designed and invented by Wolf in Indiana in 1913 which was basically a compressor unit on top of an ice box. With many improvements and innovations, companies started making refrigerators with freezers, better storage, more space and shelves to fit a number of items. There are many types of refrigerators in terms of design and use. Freezer on top or bottom, single or double door are some varieties of options available on the market. The interior of a refrigerator has also seen a number of changes. Plastic has replaced metal trays and there are a number of compartments to segregate the types of food stored. There are a number of options like vegetable crisper, fruit basket, bottle holder, egg holder and meat trays. Refrigerator manufacturers are looking at high standards, quality and design specifications.

There are many types of refrigerator designs to choose from.

The Classic Refrigerator

This is the standard single-door refrigerator. It has a built-in freezer inside and is perfect for all types of needs. It is budget-friendly and suitable for limited space.

The Top Freezer Refrigerator

Households with a preference for frozen foods will definitely appreciate the top freezer refrigerator as you won’t have to bend down frequently. It is a popular choice and found commonly in many homes. It is a space saver too.

The Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

Families use the fridge compartment more often if they stock up on fresh ingredients and love to cook. Children love the freezer at the bottom so that they can easily access the ice-cream!

The Built-In Refrigerator

Kitchen décor and cabinets with a built-in refrigerator offer seamless finish. As the refrigerator is custom-made, it is important to measure exact dimensions and also factor some air space for any surprises during installation.

The Side-by-Side Refrigerator

This refrigerator’s side-by-side design is neat segregation of the fresh food on one side and the frozen food on the other. As the name suggests, the freezer and the fridge are separate sections with their own doors. This is a good choice for large families and looks modern.

The French door Refrigerator

The French door refrigerator is a combination of the bottom freezer and a side-by-side fridge. There are many shelves and drawers and a trendy choice.

Future of refrigerators

With the advent of smart technologies and internet of things, refrigerators are moving forward from mundane appliances to smart assistants. Solid-state refrigerators that do not dissipate heat and external surfaces are cool to touch are here to enhance quality of living. Magneto-caloric refrigerators are using magnets to be more environmentally friendly and vibration free. Smart phone enabled refrigerators are ready with alerts on food segregation, spoilage and expiry dates for a hassle-free living at the touch of a button. These are new state-of-art technologies that are contributing to the quality of life and safety of the environment.

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