Refrigerator
Refrigerator

Types of domestic refrigerators

Domestic refrigerators and freezers for food storage are made in a range of sizes. Among the smallest is a 4 L Peltier refrigerator advertised as being able to hold 6 cans of beer. A large domestic refrigerator stands as tall as a person and may be about 1 m wide with a capacity of 600 L. Some models for small households fit under kitchen work surfaces, usually about 86 cm high. Refrigerators may be combined with freezers, either stacked with refrigerator or freezer above, below, or side by side. A refrigerator without a frozen food storage compartment may have a small section just to make ice cubes. Freezers may have drawers to store food in, or they may have no divisions (chest freezers).
Refrigerators and freezers may be free-standing, or built into a kitchen.
Three distinct classes of refrigerator are common:
Compressor refrigerators are by far the most common type; they make a noticeable noise, but are most efficient and give greatest cooling effect. Portable compressor refrigerators for recreational vehicle (RV) and camping use are expensive but effective and reliable. Refrigeration units for commercial and industrial applications can be made in various sizes, shapes and styles to fit customer needs. Commercial and industrial refrigerators may have their compressors located away from the cabinet (similar to split system air conditioners) to reduce noise nuisance and reduce the load on air conditioning in hot weather.
Absorption refrigerators may be used in caravans and trailers, and dwellings lacking electricity, such as farms or rural cabins, where they have a long history. They may be powered by any heat source: gas (natural or propane) or kerosene being common. Models made for camping and RV use often have the option of running (inefficiently) on 12 volt battery power.
Solar refrigerators and Thermal mass refrigerators are designed to reduce electrical consumption. Solar refrigerators have the added advantage that they do not use refrigerants that are harmful to the environment or flammable. Typical solar designs are absorption refrigerators that use ammonia as the working gas, and employ large mirrors to concentrate sufficient sunlight to reach the temperature required to free gaseous ammonia from the solvent. Most thermal mass refrigerators are designed to use electricity intermittently. As these units are heavily insulated, cooling load is limited primarily to heat introduced by new items to be refrigerated, and ambient air transfer when the unit is open. Very little power is therefore required if opened infrequently.
Peltier refrigerators are powered by electricity, usually 12 volt DC, but mains-powered wine coolers are available. Peltier refrigerators are inexpensive but inefficient and become progressively more inefficient with increased cooling effect; much of this inefficiency may be related to the temperature differential across the short distance between the "hot" and "cold" sides of the Peltier cell. Peltier refrigerators generally use heat sinks and fans to lower this differential; the only noise produced comes from the fan. Reversing the polarity of the voltage applied to the Peltier cells results in a heating rather than cooling effect.
Other specialised cooling mechanisms may be used for cooling, but have not been applied to domestic or commercial refrigerators.
Magnetic refrigerators are refrigerators that work on the magnetocaloric effect. The cooling effect is triggered by placing a metal alloy in a magnetic field.
Acoustic refrigerators are refrigerators that use resonant linear reciprocating motors/alternators to generate a sound that is converted to heat and cold using compressed helium gas. The heat is discarded and the cold is routed to the refrigerator.