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Direct Cool Vs Frost-Free Refrigerators – in Depth Knowledge

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From the practical invention of the refrigerator, which came about in the year 1914, when an engineer named Nathaniel B.

Wales, built the concept of an electric refrigerator, to the emergence of the French doors refrigeration unit and the stainless steel facades era, the world of engineering has witnessed a radical transition in the world of refrigeration.

The evolution in refrigeration units being accompanied by the evolution of modern life requirements and preferences.

The need for storing food items, vegetables, raw meat, desserts, etc has increased greatly in our modern lives, and the science of modern refrigeration has kept up with the increasing need and demand.

What a refrigerator does is preserve the nutrients in the food items that are essential for a healthy lifestyle.

As a refrigerator is an integral appliance in any given household rather than a luxury item anymore, one must know of the different kinds presently available.

There are two kinds of refrigerator from which one must choose from when deciding to purchase one, them being the Direct Cool Refrigerator and the Frost Free Refrigerator.

Direct Cool Refrigerator


The direct cool refrigerator as the name implies, directly cools the circulation of the cool air inside the compartments of the refrigerator with the application of the process of convection without any external help, naturally.

These kinds of refrigerators require manual defrosting as the water evaporates on the internal surface and then freezes into ice.

It needs to be defrosted by pushing a button, manually, when the frost collects in and around the freezer box.  Accordingly, it creates a circulation of uneven temperature.

There is no method of controlling the distribution of temperature. The capacity of these refrigerators range from 50 to 250 liters, and they use less electricity compared to the Frost Free variant of refrigerators.

They are smaller in size and consist of only one door. Therefore these kinds of refrigerators are economical, and can finely serve a family of 2-3.

It has an uneven temperature and that keeps the food fresh for a very long time. They function well and the exteriors remain cool and do not heat up. The exteriors are kept cool as well as the food on the inside.

Direct Cool Refrigerators have the following properties

  • The Direct Cool Refrigeration units circulate the cool air with the help of the natural process of convection, in contrast to the frost-free units which cool the air with the use of electric fans.
  • Due to the use of the kind of fans required for cooling the air via the process of convection, the Direct Cool Refrigeration units consume much lesser electricity than frost free variants of refrigerators.
  • The Direct Cool refrigerators do not have an automatic method of defrosting, and hence the user must clean the ice manually,
  • The Direct Cool Refrigeration units are available only in the single door refrigerator models.
  • The potential capacity of a direct cool refrigerator ranges somewhere between 50 and 250 liters.
  • When storing frozen food over a period of time, the Direct Cool refrigerators are perhaps not the best available option. 
  • The Food in the Direct Cool Refrigerators remains moderately fresh as compared to the other variants of refrigeration units.
  • Due to its limitation in storage and holding capacity, direct cool refrigeration units are suitable for households with a small family, not extending more than two to three, or say, four members.
  • Due to its constraints in efficiency and storage capacities, the direct cool refrigerators consume less electricity.
  • The exteriors of the Direct Cool Refrigeration units do not get very hot very easily.
  • The coils used in the Direct Cool Refrigeration units are kept open at the rear, which may lead to the accumulation of dust in the appliance.
  • The Direct Cool refrigerators are gradually losing their market and are for now mostly used for industrial use, as people decide to upgrade to the Frost Free variant of refrigerators.

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Frost Free Refrigerators


The Frost-free refrigerators, as the name suggests, has an automatic inbuilt defrosting method and it does not require any kind of manual defrosting with any external aid.

A not very large element is placed inside the refrigeration unit which automatically melts the ice that accumulates in the appliance, hence making the process of de-icing and defrosting the evaporator in a refrigeration unit very easy and convenient.

The ice that melts into water drains from the evaporator through a duct at the rear of the refrigeration unit.

The defrosting is controlled by an electronic or an electric timer, which functions as follows: For each 6, 8, 10, 12, or 24 hours of the operation of a compressor, the appliance automatically turns on, for 15 minutes or half an hour, a defrost heater.

Inside the freezer, the air is circulated with the help of one or more of what we call fans. In a normal design of the unit, the cold air originating from the freezer compartment is conducted or more precisely ducted to the compartment containing fresh food and is circulated back from the fresh food into the freezer compartment.

Air circulation helps in sublimating any ice or frost that may have formed on the frozen items stored in the freezer compartment. While defrosting is automatically carried out, this particular fan stops functioning in order to keep the heated-up air from entering into the food compartment.

This process is accomplished without any interference with the cycle of the natural cooling in the refrigerator, which is required continuously for the proper storage of food.

These refrigerators maintain consistent, even temperatures throughout and hence are able to maximize the storage and the freshness of the food items, keeping them good for a longer period of time, while at the same time not burning a hole in the consumer’s pockets.

Frost Free Refrigerators have the following properties

  • In the Frost Free Refrigeration units, the automatic electric fans are responsible for cooling the interiors of the appliance.
  • The defrosting process does not require any manual labor and happens on its own, with higher consumption of electricity.
  • The Frost Free Refrigerators are available in very fancy models with double, triple doors and also in the French door models, which make them look very attractive.
  • The technology used in the Frost Free Refrigeration units is best suited to preserve food items over a longer period of time.
  • The Frost Free Refrigerators are suitable for households with large families.
  • The Frost Free Refrigerators are mostly used for residential means.

The Frost Free Refrigerators have some miscellaneous properties:

  • In the Frost Free Refrigeration units, there is no need to manually defrosting the frost that builds up and accumulates in the freezer, as there is an automatic inbuilt mechanism to carry out that process.
  • In the Frost Free Refrigeration units, power consumption does not gradually increase with time.
  • In the Frost Free Refrigeration units, the food packages are easier to sort and see.
  • One of the most reasons for convenience to use the Frost Free Refrigeration units is that most of the frozen food doesn’t stick together, as it does in the Direct Cool variant of refrigerators.
  • The smells and typical odors that we associate with food items are not transferred, and even if it does, the extent of the odor transfer is limited, especially in the entirely frost-free appliances given that the air always keeps circulating in the unit.
  • The Frost Free Refrigeration units have much better temperature management than the direct cool refrigerators.
  • The Frost Free variant of refrigerators consume more electricity in comparison to the Direct Cool refrigerators and hence are more expensive compared to the latter.

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Making a choice

There have been a remarkable number of differences between the Frost Free Refrigeration units and the Direct Cool refrigerators, as the technology and designs have advanced manifolds over the decades.

There is a difference in the method of cooling, in the method of defrosting, in the uniformity in the cooling process, in the applications of fans, which in turn increase the consumption of electricity, and so forth.

To compare the two will require different considerations like the preferences, demands, needs, and budget.

The Frost Free Refrigerators, though use more electricity than the Direct Cool variants, are gaining ground in the market as they develop into better appliances with sleek and attractive designs in models.

What is also to be considered when making a choice between the two is the size. A typical direct cool refrigerator comes in a capacity between 50 to 250 liters, whereas the Frost Free ones are available in a much larger capacity, which is around 650 liters.

As we live in a fast-paced world, the need for proper storage of food becomes a necessity and we must consider all sides before making an investment in the purchase of a refrigerator.

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