A frost-free refrigerator is also commonly known as a Non-frost or No-frost refrigerator. The antonym is a Manual or Traditional refrigerator. Traditionally a refrigerator is constructed with its evaporator tubing run behind the wall of the inner surface; refrigerant (refrigerator gas) that flows in the tube generate the cold temperature. That’s why when “traditional refrigerator” is operating, frost is formed on the inner walls of the freezer compartment. And after hours of working, all foodstuffs kept in the freezer compartment get covered in ice. To remove an item from the refrigerator, defrosting needs to be done first.
This building up of frost in freezer eats up space in a refrigerator. That abnormal layer of ice also impedes the efficient transfer of cold temperature from the evaporator to other items in the refrigerator.
Defrosting ice-clogged refrigerator takes time. It would need you to switch off the refrigerator and open the freezer door to let warm air flow in to melt the ice. But if there is an urgent need to remove an item from the fridge, there would be an unavoidable delay. This tedious manual defrosting process is one of the reasons that lead to the invention of the technology behind non-frost system.
A frost-free refrigerator is built with some extra gadgets to perform the duty of automatically defrosting a refrigerator as it runs. Therefore there is no need for user input like switching off the refrigerator and opening doors to defrost. And this is why if you open freezer door of a frost-free refrigerator, all items inside look clean and without patches of ice stuck on their surfaces. Also, there is no thick layer of ice on the walls.
These gadgets work harmoniously to automatically defrost refrigerator: They include a small fan motor, heater/element, thermal switch, and timer.
When the compressor is running, evaporator generates cold temperature which the fan blows to storage spaces. No-frost refrigerator evaporator sometimes gets clogged with frost after refrigerator has worked for long. Here is when thermal-switch connects heater, and the frost is melted. The timer makes sure compressor stops as defrosting takes place. Control gadgets coordinate this operation accurately. These extra gadgets are the add-on that pushes no-frost refrigerator’s price a little higher, though.
Let’s look at the difference between these two refrigerators: Nonfrost and traditional, by considering their buying price and operation costs.
A frost free refrigerator’s buying price is slightly higher than that of an ordinary one by at least 5%. Electricity consumption cost will also be a bit higher, although negligible. The slightly higher cost of power owes to the fact that the refrigerator is fitted with additional components like evaporator fan motor. But basically, benefits of non-frost system out-ways its disadvantages – no manual defrosting, and items in the refrigerator look neat.
There is a myth called Freezer Burn that surrounded frost free refrigerator. Freezer burn is the unpleasant phenomenon that occurs to food stored in a freezer if it’s accidentally dehydrated and oxidized due to it being exposed to air. Experts’ and users’ explanation of this same thing (freezer burn) that happens to ‘meat,’ varies. But all of them arrive at the damage done to the food; its color turns, its texture changes and its original taste is affected.
In the advent of the frost-free refrigerator, it was rumored that the system (automatic defrost technology) was responsible for causing freezer burn to food stored in the nonfrost refrigerator. After a lot of debate among users and experts, it came to light that frost-free technology is one of the best that refrigeration industry ever invented. And today, after reliable experiments, all fingers point to poor food packaging as the cause of freezer burn. That is to say, poor packaging that leaves spaces of air in the ‘packaging bag’ is the root cause of freezer burn. So whether in a frost-free or ordinary refrigerator, meat should be packaged in recommended ‘air tight freezer bag’ before placing in a freezer. Otherwise, from the consumer insight, 99.99% of users who’ve had a taste of an ordinary refrigerator and are now on non-frost, are happier.