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What Is a Domestic Refrigerator?

A domestic refrigerator is an electrical appliance used in many households for keeping foods cool enough so that they wont spoil. There are other types of refrigerators that do not operate using electricity, such as gas- or oil-powered refrigerators. Some domestic refrigerators are single units, and others are combined with a freezer. They vary in height, ranging from small-box refrigerators that can often fit in a college dorm to large refrigerators and freezer units that are about 7 feet tall or higher. The alternatives to using a home domestic refrigerator are using a root cellar, an icebox or canning foods. Domestic refrigerators are amongst the most common electric appliances in the world, for instance being present in 99.5% of American homes. They use refrigeration to help preserve Food. They invariably work using phase change heat pumps operating in a refrigeration cycle.


The domestic refrigerator using natural ice (domestic ice box) was invented in 1803 and was used for almost 150 years without much alteration. The domestic ice box used to be made of wood with suitable insulation. Ice used to be kept at the top of the box, and low temperatures are produced in the box due to heat transfer from ice by natural convection. A drip pan is used to collect the water formed due to the melting of ice. The box has to be replenished with fresh ice once all the ice melts. Though the concept is quite simple, the domestic ice box suffered from several disadvantages. The user has to replenish the ice assoon as it is consumed, and the lowest temperatures that could be produced inside the compartment are limited. In addition, it appears that warm winters caused severe

shortage of natural ice in USA. Hence, efforts, starting from 1887 have been made to develop domestic refrigerators using mechanical systems. The initial domestic mechanical refrigerators were costly, not completely automatic and were not very reliable. However, the development of mechanical household refrigerators on a large scale was made possible by the development of small compressors, automatic refrigerant controls, better shaft seals, developments in electrical power systems and induction motors. General Electric Company introduced the first domestic refrigerator in 1911, followed by Frigidaire in 1915. Kelvinator launched the domestic mechanical refrigerator in 1918 in USA. In 1925, USA had about 25 million domestic refrigerators of which only 75000 were mechanical. However, the manufacture of domestic refrigerators grew very rapidly, and by 1949 about 7 million domestic refrigerators were produced annually. With the production volumes increasing the price fell sharply (the price was 600 dollars in 1920 and 155 dollars in 1940). The initial domestic refrigerators used mainly sulphur dioxide as refrigerant. Some units used methyl chloride and methylene chloride. These refrigerants were replaced by Freon-12 in 1930s. In the beginning these refrigerators were equipped with open type compressors driven by belt drive. General Electric Company introduced the first refrigerator with a hermetic compressor in 1926. Soon the open type compressors were completely replaced by the hermetic compressors. First refrigerators used water-cooled condensers, which were soon replaced by air cooled-condensers. Though the development of mechanical domestic refrigerators was very rapid in USA, it was still rarely used in other countries. In 1930 only rich families used domestic refrigerators in Europe. The domestic refrigerator based on absorption principle as proposed by Platen and Munters, was first made by Electrolux Company in 1931 in Sweden. In Japan the first mechanical domestic refrigerator was made in 1924. The first dual temperature (freezer-refrigerator) domestic refrigerator was introduced in 1939. The use of mechanical domestic refrigerators grew rapidly all over the world after the Second World War. Today, a domestic refrigerator has become an essential

kitchen appliance not only in highly developed countries but also in countries such as India. Except very few almost all the present day domestic refrigerators are mechanical refrigerators that use a hermetic compressor and an air cooled condenser. The modern refrigerators use either HFC-134a (hydro-fluoro-carbon

Parts of the Domestic Refrigerator and how they Work:

Most domestic refrigerators are of two typeseither a single door fresh food refrigerator or a two-door refrigerator-freezer combination, with the freezer compartment on the top portion of the cabinet, or a vertically split cabinet (side-by-side), with the freezer compartment on the left side of the cabinet. They are completely self-contained units and are easy to install. Most refrigerators use Rnormally maintaining temperatures of 0F in the freezer compartment and about 35F to 45F in the refrigerator compartment. The technician must be able to perform various duties in the maintenance and repair of domestic refrigerators, water coolers, and ice machines. This section provides information to aid you in handling some of the more common types of troubles. The domestic refrigerator is one found in almost all the homes for storing food, vegetables, fruits, beverages, and much more. This article describes the important parts of the domestic refrigerator and also their working. The parts of domestic refrigerator can be categorized into two categories: internal and external. 22 refrigerant,

Parts of the Domestic Refrigerator: Internal Parts of the Domestic Refrigerator

The internal parts of the refrigerator are ones that carry out actual working of the refrigerator. Some of the internal parts are located at the back of the refrigerator, and

some inside the main compartment of the refrigerator. Some internal parts of the

domestic refrigerator . 1) Refrigerant: The refrigerant flows through all the internal parts of the refrigerator.
It is the refrigerant that carries out the cooling effect in the evaporator. It absorbs the heat from the substance to be cooled in the evaporator (chiller or freezer) and throws it to the atmosphere via condenser. The refrigerant keeps on recirculating through all the internal parts of the refrigerator in cycle.

2) Compressor: The compressor is located at the back of the refrigerator and in the
bottom area. The compressor sucks the refrigerant from the evaporator and discharges it at high pressure and temperature. The compressor is driven by the electric motor and it is the major power consuming devise of the refrigerator.

3) Condenser: The condenser is the thin coil of copper tubing located at the back of
the refrigerator. The refrigerant from the compressor enters the condenser where it is cooled by the atmospheric air thus losing heat absorbed by it in the evaporator and the compressor. To increase the heat transfer rate of the condenser, it is finned externally.

4) Expansive valve or the capillary: The refrigerant leaving the condenser enters the
expansion devise, which is the capillary tube in case of the domestic refrigerators. The capillary is the thin copper tubing made up of number of turns of the copper coil. When the refrigerant is passed through the capillary its pressure and temperature drops down suddenly.

5) Evaporator or chiller or freezer: The refrigerant at very low pressure and

temperature enters the evaporator or the freezer. The evaporator is the heat exchanger made up of several turns of copper or aluminum tubing. In domestic refrigerators the plate types of evaporator is used as shown in the figure above. The refrigerant absorbs

the heat from the substance to be cooled in the evaporator, gets evaporated and it then sucked by the compressor. This cycle keeps on repeating.

6) Temperature control devise or thermostat: To control the temperature inside the

refrigerator there is thermostat, whose sensor is connected to the evaporator. The thermostat setting can be done by the round knob inside the refrigerator compartment. When the set temperature is reached inside the refrigerator the thermostat stops the electric supply to the compressor and compressor stops and when the temperature falls below certain level it restarts the supply to the compressor.

7) Defrost system: The defrost system of the refrigerator helps removing the excess ice
from the surface of the evaporator. The defrost system can be operated manually by the thermostat button or there is automatic system comprising of the electric heater and the timer.

now let us see the external parts of the refrigerator.

The external parts of the compressor are the parts that are visible externally and used for the various purposes. The figure below shows the common parts of the domestic refrigerator and some them are described below:

1) Freezer compartment: The food items that are to be kept at the freezing
temperature are stored in the freezer compartment. The temperature here is below zero degree Celsius so the water and many other fluids freeze in this compartment. If you want to make ice cream, ice, freeze the food etc. they have to be kept in the freezer compartment.

2) Thermostat control: The thermostat control comprises of the round knob with the
temperature scale that help setting the required temperature inside the refrigerator. Proper setting of the thermostat as per the requirements can help saving lots of refrigerator electricity bills.

3) Refrigerator compartment: The refrigerator compartment is the biggest part of the

refrigerator. Here all the food items that are to be maintained at temperature above zero degree Celsius but in cooled condition are kept. The refrigerator compartment can be divided into number of smaller shelves like meat keeper, and others as per the requirement.

4) Crisper: The highest temperature in the refrigerator compartment is maintained in

the crisper. Here one can keep the food items that can remain fresh even at the medium temperature like fruits, vegetables, etc.

5) Refrigerator door compartment: There are number of smaller subsections in the

refrigerator main door compartment. Some of these are egg compartment, butter, dairy, etc.

6) Switch: This is the small button that operates the small light inside the refrigerator.
As soon the door of the refrigerator opens, this switch supplies electricity to the bulb and it starts, while when the door is closed the light from the bulb stops. This helps in starting the internal bulb only when required

Types of domestic refrigerators Household refrigerator output in 2000Domestic refrigerators and freezers for food storage are made in a range of sizes. Among the smallest is a 4 L Peltier fridge advertised as being able to hold 6 cans of beer. A large domestic fridge stands as tall as a person and may be about 1 m wide with a capacity of 600 L. Some models for small households fit under kitchen work surfaces, usually about 86 cm high. Fridges may be combined with freezers, either stacked with fridge or freezer above, below, or side by side. A fridge without a frozen food storage compartment

may have a small section just to make ice cubes. Freezers may have drawers to store food in, or they may have no divisions (chest freezers). Fridges and freezers may be free-standing, or built into a kitchen. Compressor refrigerators are by far the most common type; they make a noticeable noise. Absorption refrigerators or thermo-electric Peltier units are used where quiet running is required; Peltier coolers are used in the smallest refrigerators as they have no bulky mechanism. Compressor and Peltier refrigerators are powered by electricity; absorption units can be designed to be powered by any heat source. A noticeable difference between the two types is the absence of refrigerant with the Peltier coolers (these use a different method of cooling). But Peltier coolers use more electricity because they are thermodynamically inefficient. Oil, gas (natural gas or propane) and dual power gas/electricity units are also available (typically found in RV's). Solar refrigerators and Thermal mass refrigerators are designed to reduce electrical consumption. Solar refrigerators have the added advantage that they do not use refrigerants that are harmful to the environment or flammable. Typical solar designs are absorption refrigerators that use ammonia as the working gas, and employ large mirrors to concentrate sufficient sunlight to reach the temperature required to free gaseous ammonia from the solvent.[10][11] Most thermal mass refrigerators are designed to use electricity intermittently. As these units are heavily insulated, cooling load is limited primarily to heat introduced by new items to be refrigerated, and ambient air transfer when the unit is open. Very little power is therefore required if opened infrequently. Refrigeration units for commercial

and industrial applications can be made in various size, shape or style to fit customer needs. Other specialised cooling mechanisms may be used for cooling, but have not been applied to domestic refrigerators. Magnetic refrigerators are refrigerators that work on the magnetocaloric effect. The cooling effect is triggered by placing a metal alloy in a magnetic field.[12] Acoustic refrigerators are refrigerators that use resonant linear reciprocating motors/alternators to generate a sound which is then converted to heat and cold using compressed helium gas. The heat is descarded and the cold is routed to the refrigerator.
Single Door Fresh Food Refrigerator A single door fresh food refrigerator consists of an evaporator placed either across the top or in one of the upper corners of the cabinet. The condenser is on the back of the cabinet or in the bottom of the cabinet below the hermetic compressor. During operation, the cold air from the evaporator flows by natural circulation through the refrigerated space. The shelves inside the cabinet are constructed so air can circulate freely past the ends and sides, eliminating the need for a fan. This refrigerator has a manual defrost, which requires that the refrigerator be turned off periodically (usually overnight) to enable the buildup of frost on the evaporator to melt. Both the outside and inside finish is usually baked-on enamel. Porcelain enamel is found on steel cabinet liners. The interior of the unit contains the shelves, lights, thermostats, and temperature controls.

Two-Door Refrigerator-Freezer Combination The two-door refrigerator-freezer combination is the most popular type of refrigerator. It is similar to the fresh food refrigerators in construction and the location of components except it sometimes has an evaporator for both the freezer compartment and the refrigerator compartment. Also, if it is a frost-free unit, the evaporators are on the outside of the cabinet. Because of the two separate compartments (refrigerator-freezer) and the larger capacity, these types of refrigerators use forced air (fans) to circulate the air through the inside of both compartments. The twodoor refrigerator also has one of the following three types of evaporator defrost systems: manual defrost, automatic defrost, or frost-free. There are two types of automatic defrosting: the hot gas system or the electric heater system. The hot gas system, through the use of solenoid valves, uses the heat in the vapor from the compressor discharge line and the condenser to defrost the evaporator. The other system uses electric heaters to melt the ice on the evaporator surface. A frost-free refrigerator-freezer (fig. 6-39) has the evaporator located outside the refrigerated compartment. On the running part of the cycle, air is drawn over the evaporator and is forced into the freezer and refrigerator compartments by a fan. On the off part of the cycle, the evaporators automatically defrost.

Refrigerator-freezer cabinets are made of pressed steel with a vinyl or plastic lining on the interior wall surfaces and a lacquer exterior finish. Most domestic refrigerators have urethane foam or fiber glass insulation in the cabinet walls. The side-by-side refrigerator-freezer arrangement has a number of features not found in other refrigerators. In addition to the automatic icemaker in the freezer compartment, it has an option for a cold water dispenser, a cube or crushed ice dispenser, and a liquid dispenser built into the door.

Foods that are often stored in domestic refrigerators are perishable foods. These foods often include fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and drinks that must be refrigerated after opening. For the best results, foods are often arranged in a certain way, such as vegetables at the bottom of the refrigerator and drinks in the door. The best temperature setting is often between 38 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.3 and 4.4 degrees Celsius. If the

temperature is set below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius, the refrigerator will freeze the food.