The Refrigerator

Domestic Refrigerator unit
Domestic refrigerator ideal for the kitchen


The Refrigerator is a home or office appliance for chilling food and non-food stuffs. It is a plastic, Formica, or metal box with  two layers; inner and outer layer. Between the two layers is a Styrofoam that acts as insulator to preserve cold temperature.

A refrigerator has one, two, or more freezer and cooler compartments. Each compartment has its door.

Freezer compartment cools stuff to temperatures below zero while cooler compartment cools stuff to temperatures above zero.

When shopping for a refrigerator, there are factors you should consider:

  • Size
  • Electric power consumption
  • Physical structure

Size of a Refrigerator

Storage space is a factor buyers consider first when shopping for a refrigerator because it determines the quantity of what you stock in it. A big family would go for a sizable refrigerator while a smaller family will consider a small size.

Refrigeration industry’s standard measurement allocates 1/3rd of the refrigerator inner storage space to freezer compartment. The remaining space is cooler. Either of the two compartments is on the upper or lower side.

If the freezer is on the upper side of the refrigerator it is called top freezer refrigerator, but if it is on the lower compartment it is bottom freezer refrigerator.

Refrigerator storage capacity is measured in cubic foot (cu ft). One cubic foot is a space that contains approximately 28.4 liters of liquid. That is roughly the size of a standard cooler box.

So if you pick on a refrigerator labeled 5 cubic feet, the freezer compartment would be 1/3rd of it. That is, roughly 1.5 cubic feet. The cooler compartment would be the remaining 3.5 cubic feet.

Manufacturers produce various sizes of two-door/two-temperature refrigerators the size of less than 2 cubic feet, or smaller. And as big as 20 cubic feet, or larger.

Electricity Consumption

In a compression system refrigerator, the main component that draws electricity is the compressor.

In absorption system, it is the electric heater/element.

To know the amount of electricity your refrigerator draws helps you budget for your utility bills.

Look for the Energy Star sticker on your refrigerator to know whether its power consumption is within the industry’s recommended range. The government endorses consumer goods that meet set standards by awarding them with Energy Star label.

Calculate what your refrigerator consumes using the simple steps below as example:

Suppose electricity company charges you 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (1000 Watts per hour).

Your refrigerator rating is 200 Watts, meaning this is the amount of electricity your refrigerator runs on in one hour.

How much then does it cost you if the refrigerator runs for 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 compressor runs non-stop for a year. But if the thermostat is functional, the figure would be less. A Thermostat cuts off power when a set temperature is attained, then automatically switches on power when the temperature rises.

Within 24 hours, the sum total of minutes your refrigerator stays off when the thermostat cuts off electricity, constitute more than a quarter of the total time the refrigerator would run without a thermostat. Thermostatic on-off switch economizes electricity.

Physical Look

Many refrigerator surfaces are white. This obeys solar energy law that white surfaces deflect heat generating rays while color surfaces absorb heat. This makes colored surfaces warmer under sun rays and white surfaces remain normal.

A refrigerator with black paint would absorb sun rays if it beams on it, and increase the refrigerator body temperature. This can impede cooling efficiency.

There are refrigerators with paints other than white though. If you have one, place it on a spot where sun rays does not beam on it.

High-end refrigerator bodies are stainless steel metal sheet. These refrigerators are more expensive than the ones with plastic and other bodyworks because steel is costly. Stainless steel can withstand the weight of stuff packed in it than an ordinary refrigerator can.