Refrigerator & Air Conditioner | Working & Parts [Difference & Similarity]

By | June 5, 2018

We all use Refrigerators and Air conditioners in our daily life, especially in summers they are boon. But how many of us actually know the working of them.

Today we will discuss working of both refrigerator and air conditioner. We will try to draw some similarities and some differences.

Starting from the scratch, we will understand them step by step.

Lets start with refrigerator.

What is Refrigerator?

Technically a Refrigerator is known as heat pump (Since it sucks heat from one place and throw it to some other place).

But in general terms. A refrigerator is a device that maintains temperature of a place below ambient (or room) temperature. The heat extracted is given away to atmosphere.

But how this complex task (of reducing temperature) is done?

To understand this let’s move on to components and working of the refrigerator.

Components and Working

A refrigerator is composed of four main components, which are responsible for its working. These are Evaporator, Compressor, Condenser and Expansion Valve. Let us discuss each of these components one by one.

Evaporator

Evaporator

Evaporator (Image 01)

An evaporator (generally coil shaped) is the part of refrigerator where the cooling takes place. Evaporator sucks heat from the place where we want to maintain the temperature and transfers it to refrigerant.

Compressor

Compressor

Compressor (Image: 02)

After taking heat from evaporator, refrigerant reaches compressor where it gets compressed and due to compression its temperature increases.

Condenser

Condenser

Condenser (Image: 03)

A condenser looks similar to evaporator. Refrigeration fluid with temperature reaches condenser (which may be either water cooled or air cooled). Here its temperature is reduced to the ambient temperature (heat which is sucked from the room or closed space is given away to atmosphere at condenser).

Expansion Valve

Expansion Valve

Expansion Valve (Image 04)

After condenser refrigerant comes to expansion valve (which is basically a throttling device). Here the pressure of refrigerant is decreased, which results in decreasing the temperature of refrigerant below atmospheric temperature. This cooled refrigerant is then supplied to Evaporator, this cycle runs on and on.

Working Cycle

what is refrigerator

Image 05

Modern day refrigerators works on vapour compression cycle. You can easily co-relate its diagram with the explanation given above.

Difference between Refrigerator and Air conditioner

Though basically Refrigerators and Air Conditioners (summer) are fundamentally same (Both maintain temperature of a place below ambient), but the difference lies in their uses and working. Let us understand the differences in tabular method.

Base of Comparison Refrigerator Air conditioner
Place of use Used where we need to cool commodity, like vegetables, fruits, etc. Used where living beings wants to maintain atmospheric comfort level. like temperature, humidity etc.
Working No air circulation is required to be maintained Air circulation is required to be maintained
Humidity No Humidity is required to be maintained Humidity is required to be maintained
Fresh air circulation Not required Required
Load Working load is generally low Working load is generally high
Working Cycle Vapour compression cycle Vapour compression cycle

In all we can say an Air conditioner is a refrigerator which is meant for cooling a room with a provision of circulating fresh air and maintaining a comfortable level of Humidity.

Image sources [Date:11-12-2018]

Image 01:

Image URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/11089440916

Licence: Some rights reserved

Attribution: jblevine2004

Image 02:

Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Screw_Compressor.jpg

File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Screw_Compressor.jpg

Attribution: Winfried Recker [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image 03:

Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Condenser_unit_for_central_air_conditioning.JPG

File URL:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Condenser_unit_for_central_air_conditioning.JPG

Attribution: H Padleckas [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Image 04:

Page URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thermostatic_Expansion_Valve_PHT.jpg

File URL: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Thermostatic_Expansion_Valve_PHT.jpg

Attribution: Neurotronix [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Image 05:

Attribution: By Original uploader was Keenan Pepper at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1393091

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