Defrosting in Refrigerators – Automatic Vs Manual


Refrigeration is a technology that has actively influenced the way we store and preserve food in both commercial and domestic spaces. Over the years, the refrigerators seen in the market have evolved and progressed with newer and more efficient technologies; this is to ensure that people get to enjoy the food preservation benefits that come with owning a refrigerator. Refrigerators are easily the most expensive items in most kitchens, so it’s a good idea to understand some of their more subtle features. We usually notice defrosting written on the specs of some of our refrigerators but most of us have not really given them any real thought.


How Frost forms in the Freezer?

The process of cooling air inside the refrigerator causes the air to condense (turn into water) before freezing and turning into ice crystals. This is called frosting. Over time, ice can build-up to a point inside the freezer that can cause a decrease in performance, inefficiency, and a shorter life expectancy of refrigerator parts.

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The Frosting comes with a number of disadvantages. These include:

  • The ice takes up much-needed space inside the cabinet. This reduces the space available for stocking food items.
  • Accumulation of ice crystals can damage components in the refrigerator.
  • It can cause freezer burn, a situation where ice crystals accumulate on the food surface and damage the quality of the food. The build-up also degrades food labels.

This accumulation usually happens in the freezer section of your refrigerator. As the temperatures get lower, the air around the cooling coils turns into water before forming an ice build-up. To prevent this, fridges and freezers include a process called defrosting i.e. the process of removing ice build-up from the refrigerator.

There are different ways of defrosting your refrigerator.

Methods of Defrost

There are two major methods of defrosting. These include: Automatic defrost and Manual defrost. In each, the idea is to prevent the build-up of ice crystals inside the refrigerator.

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Manual/Natural defrost

The manual defrost system is the oldest method in the refrigeration industry. It is also known as the natural defrost system because it simply requires you to remove all the food from the refrigerator and leave the door(s) open for the ice crystals to melt. This is usually the type you’ll get on low to medium-priced refrigerators.

The manual defrost system has a number of advantages.

  • It is cheaper than the automatic defrost models in terms of pricing and energy consumption levels.
  • It is able to properly maintain consistent temperatures for large quantities of products stored in the refrigerator.

The disadvantage of having a manual defrost refrigerator is that it takes more time and effort on your part as the owner to defrost.

Automatic defrost

Also known as the auto defrost, the automatic defrost was introduced as the need to have a less hands-on system of removing ice build-up increased. Freezers with an automatic defrost system are also known as frost-free.

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The automatic defrost requires no human intervention. It mainly comprises of a fan on the compressor and an electric timer which is factory set to control the temperature for the defrost process to take place.

The automatic defrost system has its advantages.

  • It is easy to maintain as it requires no human intervention to get rid of the ice build-up
  • It saves time
  • There is more space for your stock within the refrigerator thanks to the lack of ice build-up
  • Frozen food will not stick together
  • It is able to properly maintain food packages

Some of its disadvantages include:

  • It is more expensive in terms of cost and electricity usage
  • Automatic defrost refrigerators usually make more noise during their operation

It should be said that the choice of de-frosting you have is dependent on the size and cost of the refrigerator you buy; smaller refrigerators like the LG131 tends to be manual de-frosting types.

About Oluwafemi 114 Articles
Oluwafemi is a trained Engineer with so much passion for all things tech. He launched his first website in 2008 and has not stopped since then. He is also a Digital Marketing Expert and heavily involved in Data Analytics and Machine Learning. He loves to try his hands on new tech items. He has a 9 to 5 full-time position and only writes as a hobby.