How Freezers Work

The history and science behind freezing food

Freezers freeze food. What more do you need to know, really? In actuality, understanding how your freezer works can help you make your decision about the type of freezer you'll need. First, let's talk about the history of the freezer. It's definitely an invention that has transformed modern life dramatically. If it had never been invented, we'd still be using ice and snow to keep food cool (and that would only work until the snow and ice melted).

We've come a long way since then. In the early 1900s, the first refrigerators were invented and sold by companies like Kelvinator and Servel, although mass production didn't start until after the end of World War II.

Various coolants had been used up to 1945, but it was the discovery of Freon that gave the refrigerator freezer the ability to be produced en masse.

After Freon was discovered to be a chlorofluorocarbon and harmful to the environment, it was replaced with the chemical HFC-134a (1,2,2,2-tetrafluoroethane), which has no ozone layer depleting properties.

How does a freezer work?

A freezer is a food preservation machine that prevents bacteria from forming. It has several basic components that must work together to achieve this:

  • A compressor
  • A condenser
  • A metering device
  • An evaporator

These elements work together to absorb the warm air and cool the freezer air down to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the water contained in the food to ice.

Freezer features

Freezers have come a long way since 1945. Certain features, such as thermostats, automatic defrost, energy efficiency, and interior lights have been developed that make the freezer more convenient to use.

Adjustable thermostats have been included on freezers for many years now, giving you the ability to adjust the temperature to your liking. You can turn it up or down depending on the contents of your freezer.

Automatic defrost, also called frost-free or self-defrosting, is a relatively new but very efficient feature. No longer do you have to remember to manually defrost your freezer and clean out the inches of ice that have accumulated inside. There is a disadvantage to this type of freezer, though, and that is freezer burn. If you decide to buy a manual defrost freezer, the majority of the units available have a drain to make this process easier.

Many manufacturers offer energy-efficient models to help save money on energy bills. Watch for the "Energy Star" logo on the model you're considering. Also, chest freezers are more energy-efficient than uprights, because the cool air doesn't escape from the chests when the door opens.

Interior lights are a wonderful feature in any type of freezer, especially if it's full of food.

A freezer is a valuable addition to your home, giving you the opportunity to store food safely without sacrificing quality.

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