Freezer vs Refrigerator: Briefly Explained

For all those who are wondering about this title, are the freezers different from refrigerators? Don’t they come as a single unit? we would like to say that Yes; the freezers are different from refrigerators though we have been using them as a single unit for a very long time. 

Both freezers and refrigerators are beneficial for many reasons and we rely on them for storing virtually everything from ice cubes to large cuts of meats, groceries, and beverages to chill our throats in the hot summer months. Both these cold food storage appliances help in making our lives easier and let us discuss the clear differences between a freezer and a refrigerator here.

Refrigerator vs Freezer

What is a Deep Freezer?

A deep freezer is an appliance that is designed in such a way to preserve and store only deep-frozen food items. The deep freezers are generally operated under lower temperatures as they are designed to stock foods stored in them for a long-term storage option. Thus these appliances have stronger and thicker insulation in their internal layers. 

The insulation layers are thicker than the refrigerator and they generally operate at a temperature around -18 degree Celsius. The freezers that we have in our home have only a separate freezer compartment that may come with a quick icemaker option as well. Though a deep freezer is recommended for commercial shops and stores that sell frozen food, we may at times require them in our homes as well.

Apart from commercial establishments, deep freezers are also of use in medical departments such as pharmacy, biochemistry, microbiology, serology, and hematology units to store medical supplies, vaccines, and blood respectively. In the retail sector, the freezers are of use to store pre-packed food such as cartons of fish and fish products, frozen seafood, frozen peas, etc. The ideal temperature that is maintained in these freezers is about -86 degrees centigrade, which can be altered depending on the food item that is going to be preserved. 

What is a Refrigerator

We refer to the refrigerator as the fridge and is a cooling appliance that we use daily in our home for the storage and preservation of food. The typical refrigerator will have two portions, namely a refrigeration portion and the other in a freezer portion. The freezer portion in the refrigerator is dedicated to storing frozen food and making ice cubes for chilled beverages. Whereas the refrigerator portion is to store other food items at different temperatures. For instance.

  • The freezer has a temperature of 0 degrees and is thus ideal for frozen food
  • The chiller compartment that comes as a normal tray beneath the freezer operates at a temperature of about 2 to 3 degrees and is optimal to store milk packets and milk products such as cheese, cottage cheese, butter, etc.
  • The body of the refrigerator operates at a temperature of 4 to 5 degrees, which is optimal to preserve fruits, vegetables, cakes, loaves of bread, cooked food, etc.
  • The door of the refrigerator operates at a temperature of 6 to 7 degrees and can stock water bottles, cold drinks, jams, pickles, etc.

The refrigerator or the fridge is a cooling appliance that is an important variant of all our households. We can regulate the temperature of the refrigerator to adapt to the external environment. It cools with the help of a refrigerant liquid that is sealed through a refrigerant system, to draw the heat out and cool the refrigerator. This vaporized refrigerant is pushed through the coils out of the fridge, which again warms up the vapor and transforms it back into a liquid. 

Refrigerators are indeed a life-changing invention that allows us to easily preserve food without wasting it. It ceases the growth and the multiplication of bacteria and other microorganisms on the food items. This comes in handy for bachelors and spinsters when they can store food for an easy and quick snack for days. Food items that get spoiled within hours, can stay fresh in the fridge for even days, without carrying any risk of food-borne diseases. 

You can also read: How to Clean a Refrigerator Both Inside and Out?

Freezer Vs Refrigerator

Those both the devices are for storing food at optimal temperatures before consumption, the major difference between both of them is the temperature controller. The fridge is designed to store food at a temperature between 0 and 5 degrees and the freezer is designed to hold food at -18 degrees and is meant for long-term storage. The other major differences between the freezer and the refrigerator are as follows.

S. NoParametersFreezerRefrigerator
1.Temperature controllerMaintains  a constant temperature of minus 18 degrees and belowThe fridge holds a standard temperature between 0 and 5 degrees. 
2.Storage areaThe freezer has only one temperature zone to store food of similar types.The fridge will have storage areas to store different food types at different temperatures
3.Power consumptionWhen the door of the freezer is opened upwards, the cold air doesn’t drop out easily. thus helping with power savingThe fridge costs more to run because when the door is opened the cold air falls on the floor as it is dense. Thus the fridge has to work more and longer to make up for the loss
4.Convertibility It is possible to alter the temperature settings and convert a freezer into a refrigerator.It will never be possible to convert a refrigerator into a freezer. 
5.Food items storedFrozen foods, ice creams, ice cubes, etc. Practically everything from water to fruits, vegetables, cooked food, etc. 
6.Utility Freezers are generally used in commercial setups like shops and restaurants where they have to store frozen food and ice creams before selling them.They are common in households, rental properties, and offices with a small freezer compartment. 
7. CostThe cost of freezers is on the higher end. They are moderately priced compared to freezers. 

You must read: How to Make Ice Cubes Without Using a Tray?

Differences in the Working Mechanism of a Refrigerator and Freezer

How Does a Refrigerator Work?

Both the refrigerator and the freezer help in preserving food at the right temperature, though they store different types of food items. The refrigerant liquid forms the basis of the functioning of the refrigerator. The appliance has a circulating refrigerant that circulates all through the system of the appliance. 

There is a condenser on the exterior of the refrigerator, preferably at the back that helps in releasing the heat that is built in the refrigerator. The thermostat that is present inside the refrigerator helps in regulating the temperature and also engages its cooling cycle as required. The compressor draws the refrigerant and condenses it to a gas. This is sent through the condenser that takes up the liquid form upon cooling. It then passes through the evaporator that vaporizes the liquid refrigerant and absorbs the heat through the wall of the appliance.

If there is any problem with the cooling function of the refrigerator, then it is the evaporator that is to be blamed. The evaporator comes with a fan and is present on the back panel of the fridge. If the refrigerator is quiet and the fan is not making any whirring sound, then it might be required to replace or repair this evaporator fan. 

How Does a Freezer Work?

A typical freezer comprises two sets of coils, namely the condenser coil and the evaporative coil. Both these coils are separated with the help of a small aperture known as the expansion valve. In freezers that work on electricity, the electric freezer compressor pump pressurizes the refrigerant in the first coil and forces it to spray across the expansion valve that is present in the second coil. The pressure in the second coil is much lower, the refrigerant evaporates, which renders the cooling. The heat that is required for the refrigerant to enter the gaseous state comes from the evaporation process.

After going back to the gaseous state, the refrigerant comes back to the condenser coils, where it is pressurized by the condenser pump, to turn it into a liquid. Such pressurization helps generate heat, that completes the thermal cycle and dissipates heat away from the freezer compartment to maintain a low temperature in the freezer. This thermal cycle keeps happening indefinitely, as long as the coils in the freezer are sealed, and the refrigerant cannot escape.

Major Differences Between a Refrigerator and a Freezer in Terms of Working and Application

The working principle, operating temperature, and application of the refrigerator vary from that of the freezer significantly. Let us compare and contrast the two appliances based on these parameters here.

1. Differences in the working principle of refrigerator and freezer

The freezer works under the principle of a vapor compression cycle. When a liquid evaporates, it causes the surrounding area to cool. And the basic working principle of a freezer is evaporation. Freezers have better insulation properties than the refrigerator’s freezer compartment. 

The freezer in the refrigerator is controlled by a single thermostat. Even if they have dual controls, there is a limit on their temperature difference as one of the controls is for the compressor and the other is for the cooling system. The freezer however has many cooling coils to reach the freezing temperature easily. The freezer is thus capable of maintaining a temperature of 0 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The insulating material in both the refrigerator and the freezer is the same, but in freezers, they are thicker. Their compressors are larger and have more cooling coils. Thus they are highly efficient in reaching low temperatures. The freezer is at least 15 degrees colder than the fridge and is a specialist in maintaining foods frozen for days and even weeks.

2. Temperature regulation

The freezer that comes with the refrigerator is capable of preserving food at a temperature between 25 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. They are capable of preserving food only for a few weeks at this temperature.

The freezer on the other hand is designed to achieve ultra-low temperatures. They are capable of achieving a temperature of -20 degrees Celsius when used in the kitchen and commercial units in the food industry. When these freezers are used in medical labs, they are capable of achieving a temperature of about -85 degrees Celsius. 

Freezers that have a single compressor can easily reach -40 to -50 degrees Celsius. And if cooling is required below this point, then it warrants the use of a second compressor. To complement the energy-efficient features of freezers, the second compressor will turn off automatically when the set temperature is reached.

3. Differences in the physical structure of freezers and refrigerators

Both the freezer and the refrigerator differ in terms of their total internal volume. Deep freezers do not have a refrigerator section and are available in different shapes and sizes, and both horizontal and vertical patterns. 

The refrigerators on the other hand do come with a freezer compartment and are available in different sizes and vertical shapes. They are common in almost all households, though their size and capacity vary in terms of requirements and size of the family. 

4. Application of freezers and refrigerators

Freezers are generally used in commercial industries. There are many types of freezers such as ultra-low deep freezer, deep freezer vertical, freezer drier, etc. They feature a digital design and a microprocessor temperature control to achieve precise temperature controls and settings. They are also used in research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and blood banks. Refrigerators are generally for household applications and are also a part of convenience stores and commercial supermarkets, where foods for immediate consumption are stocked for sales.

Related: Best Ice Makers 2022


Both the freezer and the refrigerator are meant to stock perishables. Refrigerators are an integral part of our homes and work best when they are not overloaded and are just about two-thirds full. They are great for stocking vegetables, fruits, milk products, etc., without losing their texture and flavor. Freezers on the other hand are commonly found in grocery stores and supermarkets and pharmaceutical industries. Both of them are energy efficient and play a major role in making human life simpler and easier and are environmentally friendly as well.

Hi, I'm Douglas Cassius, I have worked with many brands that manufacture freezers and refrigerators, so here I will be sharing that knowledge and helping HomeyCart readers.

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