How Do Refrigerators Work?
Your refrigerator plays a critical role in your home, and if it's working properly, you probably won't even notice it running at all. However, everything can go sideways very quickly if it does break down. In that event, you want to fix your refrigerator as quickly as possibly, which actually isn't as complicated as you might imagine. To help fix your fridge problems, here are some topics that you should learn a bit about:
In short, there are only three main parts that you really need to know about: the refrigerant, the compressor, and the condenser coils.
Refrigerant is a very special substance that is switched from liquid to gas and then back to liquid, over and over and over again. The details will come later, but the short version is that this allows your fridge to separate the hot and cold output into two separate locations.
The compressor is responsible for squeezing the refrigerant from a gas to a liquid, which is then pushed into the condenser coils. This generates a lot of heat, which is why the back and bottom of your fridge might feel pretty warm.
The condenser coils allow the refrigerant to become a gas again as it travels through the coils. This process of becoming a gas takes in a lot of heat, which is where the cooling effect comes from.
The Cooling Process
The actual mechanisms at work in your refrigerator are pretty interesting. By repeating a short cycle over and over again, your fridge creates a bit of cold air and a lot of hot air. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it's just how the laws of nature work: you cannot actually make heat disappear. Instead, the best that you can hope for is moving heat from one place to another, which is exactly how air conditioners and refrigerators work.
This is accomplished by taking advantage of the relationship between pressure and heat. By changing the refrigerant to a state that it doesn't really want to be in (liquid), your fridge is putting the refrigerant in a position where it wants to get back into its original form. Initially changing to a liquid generates a lot of heat, but changing back to a gas does the exact opposite. By making sure that the change back to gas happens exactly where you want (in your fridge), you can direct the cooling portion of the process to the inside of your fridge.
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