Almost every household in the world has a refrigerator. They represent the only way to easily cool foods for long periods of time in order to eat them on a later date and prevent them from spoiling. Yet despite so many people owning a fridge of their own, few people actually understand how they work, and what is done to make sure that they are able to effectively keep your food cool for extended periods of time.

How Refrigerators Work

How-does-a-Refrigerator-work1 How Does A Refrigerator Work?
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It should be noted before this explanation that there are other types of fridges that work in different manners. Some use gas and a form of heat, while others use a “heat dumping” method that involves a complicated electronic process.

Certain modern refrigerators boast their own unique refrigeration system while older fridges may have an outdated method. However, most refrigerators use what is known as the “vapor compression cycle,” which is the type of refrigeration described below.

Shop around, and take a look at some of my other articles on this site about good outdoor refrigerators:


fridge-closed-full-products-1 How Does A Refrigerator Work?

Vapor compression cycle refrigerators work using the following method:

  • A “refrigerant” is compressed (in a compressor) and turned into a vapor that is actually above room temperature – warmer than 72 degrees. Note that through most of the process the refrigerant is actually warmer than room temperature.
  • After being compressed, the vapor then exits the compressor via high pressure, which warms the refrigerant up more – shooting it through the coils in the back of the fridge. These coils are known as “condensers.”
  • The condensers, are designed to naturally cool the refrigerant back down using the cooler air of the room, and it turns the refrigerant into a liquid – however, during this time the liquid is still under pressure, and still above room temperature.
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  • Finally the liquid is ready to leave the condenser through an “extension valve.” When it leaves the condenser, it travels to an area of considerably lower pressure, which forces some of the refrigerant to evaporate immediately.
    The remaining heat is sucked into the remaining liquid, while the evaporated refrigerant continues to travel through additional tubes.
  • A fan is used to cool the evaporated refrigerant further, making it evaporate even more. This evaporated refrigerant then sucks in more heat from the box, making the air around it cooler, which is then dispersed throughout the refrigerator and freezer.
    The refrigerant then continues back to the originally compression cycle to start over.

A Complicated Process That Has Proven to Work

There is a great deal of physics that is involved with this type of refrigeration process. While it may seem difficult to understand at times, it has proven itself to be the best way to cycle cold air throughout a refrigerator for a long period of time.


Other modern refrigeration methods use some form of variation of this type of system, but in general you are going to see vapor compression cycle refrigerators on the market because they are more efficient than many other types of refrigerators and have proven themselves to be both a reliable and effective method of cooling.

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Happy Outdoor Living! Thanks for reading.