Before 1834, the refrigerator was invented; food preservation consisted of simple salting, spicing, smoking, pickling, and drying.

Of course, as we know now, none of those methods came close to competing with the refrigerator. But how does a refrigerator work?

Simply put, your refrigerator has one job: to keep the inside Cold and accomplish this by collecting heat from the inside of the fridge and releasing it outside.

How A Refrigerator WorksHow A Refrigerator Works

When it comes to an understanding of how a refrigerator works.

There are five main components to consider:

  • An evaporator coil.
  • Condenser coil
  • Expansion valve
  • Compressor,
  • Refrigerant.

Inside the refrigerator, the evaporator coil is in charge of collecting heat, and the condenser coil located on the outside is in order of getting rid of it.

These two components are connected using what’s called a suction line and a Liquid Line.

A chemical called refrigerant flows through this system, and its this fluid that is responsible for collecting the heat inside
your refrigerator and transferring it out.

By manipulating this fluid’s properties through the different stages of the cycle, we can move heat from one spot to the other.

The expansion valve will allow us to decrease the pressure of the fluid.

The compressor will be in charge of increasing the pressure of the fluid.

Before we get started, it’s essential to understand that “hot” always wants to move towards Cold.

For example, if you’ve ever been told during a hot summer day, “Hey, kid….shut the Door, you’re letting all the cold air out”. What you should’ve been told is, “Hey, kid…shut the Door… you’re letting all the hot air in” because “hot” always moves towards “cold .”

So, we have a coil inside our box called the evaporator coil and one outside the condenser coil.

These two coils are connected using the Suction and Liquid line.

Flowing through this system is a fluid called refrigerant.

One important property for any refrigerant is to have a shallow boiling point.

How A Refrigerator Works
How A Refrigerator Works

R-22, a common refrigerant, begins to boil at -40 Celcius degrees, Yes this fluid starts to boil at a freezing temperature.

Let’s start at the compressor; at this point, the fluid is in a low-pressure gas phase.

The gas then enters the compressor and is compressed, which increases the pressure.

The gas leaves the compressor at a higher pressure than when it first entered.

The now high pressure, high temp gas flows towards the condenser coil.

At the condenser coil stage, the gas begins to lose heat to the surrounding atmosphere, probably your kitchen.

This is because the gas’s temperature is much hotter than the air temperature in the kitchen.

By the time it leaves the condenser coil, the fluid has lost enough heat to cool and turn into a liquid.

The fluid, which is now a liquid, makes its way towards the expansion valve, which it enters as a high-pressure liquid.

The expansion valve expands the liquid, which causes a sudden pressure drop.

Now the fluid leaves the expansion valve as low pressure, low-temperature liquid and makes its way towards the evaporator coil.

As it passes through the evaporator coil – it picks up heat from inside the box, which once again turns it into a gas.

The fluid leaves the evaporator coil as a low-pressure gas and heads towards the compressor.

As we now know, which is going to compress the gas, increasing its pressure and temperature.

This cycle is repeated over and over to ensure the correct temperature is maintained inside the refrigerator.

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How does a refrigerator work? | How the fridge works | Danfoss