Fridge vs Refrigerator: What’s the Difference?

When we hear the term fridge or refrigerator, the first thing that comes to our mind is that they are cooling appliances that are meant to preserve food and perishables from getting spoiled. But according to our knowledge, we are under the pursuit that both the fridge and the refrigerator are the same. And the term fridge is the short form for the refrigerator.

Though both these appliances are similar in their core of maintaining a standard temperature and preserving items, there are sure differences between them and you can also realize it, as you progress through this article. 

Fridge vs Refrigerator

How is a Fridge Different from a Refrigerator?

From a casual perspective, both the fridge and the refrigerators are the same and are used as cooling devices in households, all over the world with their names used interchangeably. But professionals never refer to refrigerators as fridges, as it offers a casual appearance for the appliance. And they are well versed in the fact that their functionalities define their identities. Refrigerators are the upgraded version of the fridge and they generally come with a built-in freezer. Also, refrigerators are more powerful than ordinary fridges. 

The fridge on the other hand lacks the freezer part though it comes in a variety of sizes. In one sentence we had to differentiate the fridge and the refrigerator, we could conclude that the refrigerator has both the freezing and the cooling mechanism, whereas the fridge doesn’t have the freezing mechanism and features a compact build. 

We could generally find a refrigerator installed in residential homes and in commercial spaces such as restaurants and utility stores. And fridges are generally found in small bars and hotel rooms and are a miniature version of the refrigerator. Let us compute these differences in a table for better understanding.

S NoParameterRefrigeratorFridge
1.Freezer componentRefrigerators have both cooling and freezing functionalities.Fridges render only cooling function and do not have a freezing option.
2.SizeRefrigerators are larger appliances as they offer both cooling and freezing optionsFridges are small and are a miniature version of the refrigerators
3.Operating temperatureRefrigerators bear more cooling and freezing function. Their cooling function is less compared with refrigerators
4.SpaceSome convertible refrigerators allow their freezers to get converted into fridge, and thus offer more space for coolingFridges have less small as they are small and compact and the scope for storing things is also minimal
5.Preservation standardsThe operating temperature is from 0 to 5 degrees Celsius to preserve food. The freezer component maintains a temperature below zero degrees to preserve frozen foodThe cooling performance of a fridge doesn’t match the refrigerator. Its preservation standards are also just satisfactory. 
6.ApplicationsRefrigerators are commonly found in households, restaurants, and large commercial venuesThere are generally found in hotel rooms, minibars, etc. we can also find large size fridges in supermarkets and convenience stores that stock curd, cheese, butter, and other related products.
7. InstallationFreestanding Freestanding or cabinet built-in installation.

Related Comparison: Freezer vs Refrigerator

Everything You Need to Know About the Working Mechanism of a Refrigerator

Before discussing the difference between the fridge and the refrigerator, let us discuss what a refrigerator is all about and its unique capabilities. The refrigerator comprises a heat pump and an insulated compartment. The heat pump transfers the heat from the inside of the fridge to the external environment, so that the insides of the fridge are cooled to a temperature below the ambient temperature of the room. This is essential to maintain and preserve food in the set standards.

The working mechanism of the refrigerator involves, removing heat from one medium to another and achieving a lower temperature, which is required to reduce the multiplication of bacteria and other micro-organisms that are responsible for food spoilage. The refrigerator is capable of maintaining a temperature that is at least a few degrees above zero degrees (the freezing point of water). The average temperature that is maintained in the refrigerator is about 3 to 5 degrees Celsius to store and preserve a myriad of foodstuff. 

The refrigerators follow a common pattern of the freezer on top and refrigerator on the bottom style since 1940. Newer age refrigerators encompass several other important features such as automatic defrosting, ice dispensers in the door, water dispensers, convertible freezers, etc. Domestic refrigerators are made available in several sizes, the smallest having a four-liter capacity and the largest refrigerator having a capacity of about 600 liters. Refrigerators commonly come as a freestanding unit and help in preserving a large volume of food at any point in time. 

Everything You Need to Know About the Working Mechanism of a Fridge

The fridge also follows the same working pattern, except for the fact that it doesn’t have a freezing unit and it cannot reach very low temperatures to preserve highly perishable food items. The fridge makes use of the principles of pressure, condensing and evaporation of the refrigerant fluid in a closed circuit to help remove the heat and to decrease the temperature inside the fridge.

The refrigerant fluid starts as a gas at the compressor which raises the pressure and heats the gas. This compressed gas passes through the condenser coils and at the back of the refrigerator. The gas will not lose its high temperature and starts transforming into a liquid, as it is subjected to high pressure.

Now, this liquid refrigerant comes to the expansive valve. The compressor pulls the refrigerant in the liquid state to the evaporator coils from the expansion valve. The liquid refrigerant will now start heating up and also evaporates. It converts into a gas, and goes through the evaporator coils and drains in the surrounding area making them colder. From these evaporator coils, the refrigerant gas goes back into the compressor and the cycle repeats all over again. Fluorinated greenhouse gases are increasingly being used as refrigerants in fridges. 

Important Parameters that Differentiate the Fridge from the Refrigerator

The purpose of both the fridge and the refrigerator is essentially the same, but there are sure differences between the two appliances, based on their physical appearance, temperature, purpose, and functionalities. Let us discuss these parameters in detail here.

1. Difference between the two gadgets based on physical appearance

The major difference between the fridge and the refrigerator is their size, design, and physical appearance. The refrigerators are the upgraded and bigger versions of the fridges and are also very powerful. They have more features than the fridge and they are available in many different sizes. They don’t have a freezer in them and the freezing mechanism is not installed in the fridges. Thus these appliances are as compact as possible when we compare them with refrigerators.

Refrigerators on the other hand are larger and are widely used in residential homes, restaurants, and commercial spots. They have a dedicated freezer compartment to store frozen food in very low temperatures. Also when we look at the design of the fridge door, it can either be made of an opaque material or a transparent door, like how we see in the supermarket cold storage section.

These units stand tall, stocking predominantly milk, curd, butter, and milk products, along with cartons of shakes and juices. Fridges with opaque doors are generally found in hotel rooms and minibars. Refrigerators have opaque doors and we generally cannot see what is stored inside them unless we open them.

2. Differences based on functionality and temperature

The refrigerators have two compartments. The fridge zone and the freezer zone. The freezer zone maintains very low temperatures that are near the freezing point of water. The rest of the refrigerators store food items between 2 to 7 degree Celsius to store different food items differently. For example, the chiller that is just below the freezer maintains the temperature between 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, to store milk, cheese, and other milk products.

The body of the refrigerator has a temperature of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius to store groceries, fruits, and vegetables and the door of the refrigerator maintains around 7 degrees Celsius to stock beverages, water cans, etc. Thus, there are very specific zones in the refrigerator to store different items at different temperatures. But the freezer maintains a constant temperature of 3 to 6 degrees Celsius to store fruits, vegetables, and beverages. It cannot go to extremely low temperatures and you can preserve your favorite ice cream in the fridge for long.  

3. Purpose of the appliance

The sole purpose of the fridge is to preserve stuff at standard or normal cooling temperatures. Thus they can be used only to preserve beverages. They can be placed in bedrooms, mini home bars, and hotel rooms. Large-size refrigerators find extensive application in homes, restaurants, and commercial establishments and can store large volumes of food compared with fridges. 

4. Types of refrigerators Vs types of fridges

There are many types of refrigerators based on the type and door style. The most common types of refrigerators are the French door refrigerators that have a sleeker profile with drawers and shelves. And the side-by-side model features a bigger freezer section to store food in large volumes. People who are on a tight budget can choose classic top freezer refrigerators that offer the dual function of refrigeration and freezing.

Refrigerators also vary based on the number of doors, such as single-door refrigerators, double-door refrigerators, and triple-door refrigerators. Single door units are very cost-efficient and the double door refrigerators are expensive with separate food and freezer compartments. The triple door refrigerators are very expensive but are capable of adding a lot of styles and feel to space. 

Fridges on the other hand don’t have such diverse options. If they are used in hotel rooms and other private areas, they have a single door to open into a small cooling zone and if they are used in supermarkets, they stand tall with two doors to open and easily access the food item. 

Must Read: How to Clean a Refrigerator Both Inside and Out?

5. Installation:

When it comes to installation, there are two main options, namely freestanding design and built-in options. The refrigerators, being large units generally presume a freestanding design. They also require enough space at the back and the sides to ventilate. But fridges and mine-fridges can either hold a freestanding design or have a built-in application. Most of the fridges can be installed within a cabinet setup.

Another Comparison: Beverage Cooler Vs Refrigerator

Bottom Line

If you have to choose which appliance is better? The choice is completely subjective. You can go for the fridge if you feel that it is sufficient to fulfill your needs. You should buy a fridge if you have too little space to spare and require refrigeration for one or two family members. If you want to store large quantities of food for a large family with the freezing option, then opt for the refrigerator. Thus the fridge is different from the refrigerator and both these names should not be used interchangeably.

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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