Defrost Methods and How They Work

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Refrigerators and freezers are designed to keep the cool environment for the safe storage of your food and beverages. Although, over time ice might build up due to temperature fluctuations every time you open the door. When the warm air gets into the fridge or freezer, it condenses and freezes on the walls or the shelves of the unit in the form of a frost. So, When you are on the market for refrigerators or freezers, one of the factors to take into consideration is the defrost system of the units. Defrosting refrigerators and freezers are very important in order to keep them working efficiently. Refrigerators generally come with automatic and manual defrost system options. The modern refrigerators mostly have the automatic (frost-free) defrost systems, although there are various manual defrost models to suit your needs. Both manual and auto-defrost units have their advantages and disadvantages. To help you make the right purchase, we are going to inform you about each type of defrosting systems and how they work.

manual vs automatic defrost


Refrigerators/freezers with automatic defrost system prevent ice build-up in the unit by automatically defrosting the evaporator regularly. In other words, the units run warmer temperature cycles periodically to melt the ice. Auto Defrost is also referred as Frost-free. Although, this term is usually applied to freezers and is not always the same as Auto Defrost. So, you should always check with the manufacturer for the specific details.

How do the Auto Defrost units work?

Auto-defrost refrigeration units are designed with a fan on the compressor and an electric timer for an efficient operation. The timer controls the fan to blow the cold air in the unit, as well as the heating elements to melt any built up frost. During the defrosting process, heating elements behind the wall of the unit heat the cooling element (evaporator coil). As a result, any ice formed on the back wall melts and the water runs in the evaporator tray located on the top of the compressor. The heat of the compressor evaporates the water into the air.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Automatic Defrost Units:


The primary advantage of automatic defrost units is the easy maintenance. It saves you time and effort by eliminating the need for manually defrosting and cleaning the unit. You'll only need to clean out the unit once in a year. In addition to that, since there is no ice buildup in the fridge or freezer compartments, you'll have more space for your food storage.


However, Frost-free units cost more and use more electricity than manual defrost models. Because of the defrosting cycles, the temperature tends to fluctuate often, which means that they need more energy to restore the interior temperature. As a result, auto-defrost units consume more energy and make more noise during the operation.

Manual Defrost

The refrigeration units without auto-defrost system will require manual defrosting. This means you'll have to remove all the food and turn off the unit turn of the unit to melt the built-up ice. With manual defrost units, Defrosting is important because the overtime the amount of frost on the walls grow, which will prevent the unit from working efficiently. In addition to that, it will give less space for the food storage.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual Defrost Units:


Even though auto-defrost models are a popular choice today, manual defrost refrigeration units usually cost less and are more energy-efficient than automatic defrost units because all you need to do is to turn of the unit and leave it at the room temperature until the ice melts. Additionally, they can maintain more consistent temperature for storing a large amount of food.


Since manual defrosting units have no heating elements to melt the ice, frost builds up over time. So, you'll have to defrost the refrigerator when the frost becomes 1/4 thick. Defrosting the fridge manually takes time and effort. It can take hours and you might need a plastic scraper to remove some of the frost from the walls and cleaning the defrosted water with a sponge as it collects in the bottom of the unit.

Choosing between automatic and manual defrost units comes down to your personal preferences. You can choose a frost-free model for the ease of maintenance or select manual defrost unit that costs less while conserving less energy.

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