The Refrigerator

refrigerator unit
                       Domestic refrigerator ideal for the kitchen


The Refrigerator – also referred to as double door refrigerator, for clarity – has two compartments separated by insulation material, mostly Styrofoam. Either of the compartments has its door. One refrigerator compartment is a Freezer – the temperature inside falls to below negative zero degrees. That is, stuff stored in this compartment are well preserved frozen. The other compartment is a Cooler – the temperature inside remains above freezing point. Items stored here (e.g. drinks in sealed brittle bottles) are not meant to freeze.

Factors to consider when shopping around for a double door refrigerator would be size, electric power consumption, and general physical look.

Size of a Refrigerator

In what seems to be refrigeration industry standard, 1/3rd of the total refrigerator storage room is always a freezer compartment. It’s either on top or on the lower compartment of a refrigerator. Storage capacity is one of the main factors majority buyers consider first when out shopping for a refrigerator. That inner storage space determines the quantity of stuff a refrigerator can accommodate; families dependent on refrigerated stocked supply desire that items suffice them before the next stocking. So, above-average size would be a better choice.

In refrigeration industry, the capacity of a refrigerator is measured in cubic foot (cu ft). One cubic foot is space that can accommodate approximately 28.4 liters of liquid. That’s roughly the size of ordinary portable cooler box. So a user who has the interest in knowing a rough estimate of the storage capacity of refrigerator she is interested in has an easy way of figuring out what she is looking for. Let’s say, if a label on refrigerator indicates the refrigerator is 5 cubic feet, the freezer compartment would be 1/3rd of it, which is roughly 1.5 cubic feet. The cooler compartment would be the remaining 3.5 cubic feet. This size of a refrigerator is ideal for storing food for a family of 4.
Refrigerator manufacturers produce various sizes of two-door/two-compartment refrigerators, sized as small as 2 cubic feet, or smaller. And those as big as 20 cubic feet, or larger.

Electricity Consumption

The main component on a refrigerator that determines the amount of electricity a refrigerator consumes is the size of the compressor (or electric heater/element, in the case of absorption system) it is fitted with.  Electronic control circuitry, fan motor, condenser and insulation material used to construct the refrigerator body also partially affect the amount of electricity used.

Knowing the amount of electricity a refrigerator consumes helps users avoid finding themselves in situations where they are overwhelmed by electrical energy cost of running refrigerator. That is, comparing the value of stuff (if food) preserved in it with the cost of running the refrigerator. Running cost should be minimal. There is a privileged clique who doesn’t feel the pinch of electricity cost, though.

However, where the cost of electricity is a concern and a user would like to have a glimpse of how much energy a refrigerator consumes, she can first look for the Energy Star sticker on the refrigerator. This is a bold mark on a refrigerator proving that the said refrigerator model is certified by The Federal Trade Commission, having been tested under certain controlled conditions and is quantified to use minimum electrical energy possible. That should be enough to enable a user to make an informed decision whether a refrigerator is efficient in saving energy. An Energy Star rated refrigerator utilizes 15% less amount of electricity recommended by the Federal Government. In case a user is interested in knowing the near-precise estimate of the amount of energy a refrigerator would use, she can play around with figures displayed on the Energy Guide Label of the refrigerator. Energy Guide Label is a requirement by the FTC, to be displayed on appliances. Unfortunately, because the business world is liberal, some manufacturers do not display the Energy Star sticker on the refrigerators they manufacture. This, though, is a possible indicator they don’t meet Federal Trade Commission’s required standards. Energy Star and Energy Guide Labels are probably the best guidelines to sieve non-certified refrigerators in the market while shopping for a refrigerator.

Calculating what a refrigerator may roughly consume in terms of electricity is a simple arithmetic if at all a user would like to be in the know: Let’s take an example where electricity company bills energy in kilowatt-hour (1000 Watts per hour), and 15 cents for that 1000 Watts of electricity consumed. 1000 Watts is equivalent to 1 kilowatt.

Suppose a refrigerator is rated at 200 Watts. That would be the amount of electricity the refrigerator uses in one hour. So how much does it cost if the refrigerator runs 24 hours a day, for one month?
200 watts x 24 hours x 31 days = 148800 Total Watt-hours.
148800 Watt-hours divided by 1000 Watt-hours = 150 kilowatt-hours.
150 kWh x 15 cents per kWh = $23 per month. For one year, it is $23 x 12 months = $276.

However, note that this ($276) is an annual approximation only if the refrigerator electrical parts like the compressor run non-stop for a year. But if there is a functioning regulator e.g. thermostat, the annual cost would be less. A Thermostat cuts off power when a set temperature is attained. Then automatically switches on power when the temperature inside that refrigerator rises. The sum total of minutes a refrigerator stays off, within 24 hours when the thermostat intermittently cuts off electricity, constitute more than a quarter of the total time a refrigerator would run without a Thermostat. Electricity is economized as a result of this on-and-off automatic switching.

Physical Looks

Many refrigerators are painted white from the factory. This is in obedience to solar energy law; white painted surfaces reflect heat-generating rays. Colored surfaces absorb heat. This makes colored surfaces warmer under sun rays. And this external heat can impede the efficiency of a refrigerator. So if a user’s refrigerator is to be placed where direct sun rays would beam on it, better go for a white surfaced refrigerator. A refrigerator surface is supposed to stay as low in temperature as possible. For those refrigerators to be positioned indoors, colored ones are okay. There are varieties of beautiful colors to choose from, though.

Stainless steel metal sheet is majorly used to build high-end refrigerators, and such types are more expensive compared with the common iron sheet bodied refrigerators.

Refrigerators also come in different shapes – sharp bend angles and round curves – that appeal differently to different users.

In our next articles, we’ll be looking at three types of Refrigerators. That is Top Freezer refrigerator, Bottom Freezer refrigerator and Side by Side refrigerator.