Basic Technology

Electromechanical Energy: Parts of the Refrigerator and how they operate

Alfred Ajibola - Thu, 19th September, 2019 @ 15:34: PM

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What is Electromechanical Energy?

Electromechanical energy consists of two forms of energy. These are:

  • Electrical Energy
  • Mechanical Energy

Electromechanical energy can simply be put as a conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy or (mechanical energy to electrical energy); as seen in various appliances; for instance, the refrigerator.

Devices that make use of electromechanical energy are called electromechanical devices. They include the refrigerator, air conditioner, loudspeakers, microphones and so on.

In this article, we will explore on the refrigerator and it’s mechanism of operation.


The Refrigerator as an Electromechanical device

The refrigerator comprises of both the fridges and deep freezers whose functions serve the storage of edible material and other substances. They also function to keep food substances cold for the satisfaction of people and for commercial purposes. Medical and Chemical industries use the refrigerator to preserve drugs and other important chemicals at a temperature in which the various decomposition micro-organisms are unable to act.

Below are some of the major components that make up a refrigerator:

  1. Refrigerant
  2. Evaporator or freezer or Chiller
  3. Compressor
  4. Condenser
  5. Expansion Valve or Capillary
  6. Thermostat
  7. Defrost System

Parts of a Refrigerator - Len Academy

Image Credit Bartlettltd


  • Refrigerant

The refrigerant can be a liquid (fluid) or gas (vapor), and it runs throughout the various tubes/compartments of the refrigerator. The fluid refrigerant flows throughout the entire pipes of the refrigerator. This refrigerant would expand from its liquid state into a vapor state (because it takes in heat from its surroundings), thus bringing about the cooling process inside the fridge or freezer.

The refrigerant absorbs heat from the substances to be cooled (present in the evaporator). This process repeats itself in cyclical manner; and is referred to as the refrigeration cycle.

The heat absorption by the liquid/fluid refrigerant changes it state to gaseous.

Please read on the states of matter here.


  • Evaporator

It is the cooling chamber where food materials are kept in the refrigerator. It acts by extracting heat from the food items in order to bring about their coldness.

The evaporator is a heat exchanger and it's made up of several turns of coil (made of aluminium or copper). The evaporator simply refers to the coil in the refrigerator where freezing and cooling is achieved.

It is in the evaporator that the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the substance to be cooled.

Note: The evaporator is also called the freezer or the chiller.


  • Compressor

The compressor of a refrigerator is always seen at the back and bottom portion of the refrigerator. It is the mechanical section of the refrigerator in which the refrigerant (fluid of the refrigerator) is compressed into a vapor state.

The compressor acts by sucking the gaseous refrigerant from the evaporator; as it releases it at a high temperature and pressure. The sucking/pumping action of the compressor occurs from the low pressure evaporator to the high pressure condenser.

The circulation of the refrigerant in the refrigeration system is brought about through the pumping action of the compressor.

Note: The compressor is driven by an electric motor which makes it the major power consuming part of the refrigerator.


  • Condenser

The condenser comprises of a series of arranged pipes or (coils of copper tubing) at the lower posterior end of the refrigerator, from where heat is lost to the atmosphere.

The compressor pumps the refrigerant into the condenser where it is cooled by atmospheric air. The compressor thus absorbs heat through the aforementioned process.

Note: Since heat is extracted by the condenser, it becomes very hot as a result.

The condensation of the gaseous refrigerant occurs in the condenser; that is; the refrigerant changes its state from vapor to liquid within the condenser.

In short, the condenser condenses the gaseous refrigerant (changes its state to from gas to liquid).


  • Expansion Valve

The refrigerant that leaves the compressor is now a liquid. As the liquid refrigerant flows, it becomes expanded on its path to the evaporator. This expansion process causes the liquid refrigerant to evaporate into its gaseous state (in the evaporator). As soon as this gaseous refrigerant enters the capillary or expansion valve, its temperature and pressure drops, as it cools again. The cooling refrigerant cools the evaporator as it flows through the pipes in the evaporator.

The expansion valve is also called the capillary.


  • Thermostat

This is the temperature controlling device of the refrigerator. Recall that temperature is the degree of hotness or coldness of a body.

Please read on Temperature and Heat here.

The thermostat consists of a sensor connected to the evaporator. The (settings) on the button of the thermostat can be adjusted in the compartment of the refrigerator where it is located.

If the set temperature (on the thermostat) is reached within the refrigerator, the thermostat shuts down the power supply to the compressor. This results in a reduction of temperature in the refrigerator.

To this end, you may have observed a stoppage in the function of the refrigerator (similar to muting/stopping a sound); and after some time, the refrigerator resumes its activity (similar to starting its sound).


  • Defrost System

As the name implies, the defrost system of the refrigerator functions to remove excess ice from the surface of the evaporator. The thermostat button can also be used to achieve this function when it is pressed.


Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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