Direct cool vs. Frost free (Refrigerators): What these are and what they mean for you!

Direct cool and Frost-free are techniques to cool the Fridge’s interiors and defrost the ice build-up. Direct cool Refrigerators use ‘convection’ to spread cool air and need to be ‘manually’ defrosted. Cool air is circulated by ‘fans’ in Frost free Refrigerators and ice on walls is ‘automatically’ defrosted.

Both techniques have their pros and cons. To understand which suits you better, keep reading further.

Direct cool vs. Frost free Refrigerators— A comparison

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What is defrosting?

Defrosting is the removal of ice (or frost) from the Refrigerator walls to prevent damage to its cooling system. ‘Manual’ (Direct cool technology) and ‘automatic’ (Frost free technology) are the 2 ways to defrost a Fridge depending on the model.

Have you ever noticed the ice forming on the back and side walls in your Fridge? This ice or frost forms due to the moisture in the air.

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Moisture from the air, on coming in contact with the very cold surfaces inside the Fridge, freezes immediately. Over time this ice forms a thick layer that looks like snow.

This formation of icy layer inside the Fridge is called as frosting. It may look pretty and exotic, but is harmful to the Refrigerator.

Heavy frosting, especially around the Evaporator coils, vents and settings (part of the Fridge’s cooling system) reduces the Fridge’s cooling capacity. And if ignored too long, the Refrigerator will break down.

So, how do you get rid of this ‘extra, unwanted’ ice build-up?

Turning off the Fridge, taking out all food items and letting the ice melt, was the old way to defrost a Fridge. Now-a-days Refrigerators come equipped with defrost systems that do the defrosting for you, without any hassle.

There are 2 ways to do that— manual and automatic.

What is Direct cool technology?

Refrigerators with Direct cool technology circulate cool air by convection (without using extra electricity). When ice builds-up on the side walls and the Evaporator coils at the back, the Fridge needs to be defrosted manually by the press of a button.

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All modern Refrigerators produce cool air in similar ways. What differs is how they distribute this cool air within its box compartment of ‘Freezer’ and ‘Fridge’.

In Direct cool Refrigerators, cold air is produced by the Fridge’s cooling system and distributed via convection. Just like gas flames boil a pot of water (also convection) the cold air circulates within the Fridge naturally.

No extra electricity or fans are used to spread the cool air.

As the ice forms layers over time, you will have to manually defrost the Fridge. In modern Refrigerators a button is provided that also functions as a temperature knob.

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You can thus change the cooling intensity of the Fridge as well as make it defrost by pressing the button. However, make sure you have some rags around to wipe the melted ice.

Pros and cons of ‘Direct cool’ Refrigerators

Pros

  • Direct cool Refrigerators do not come with fans for circulation. Their natural method of distributing cool air (convection) makes them more energy efficient.
  • Currently Direct cool technology is limited to single door This makes them ideal for small families of 2-3 or even for bachelor pads.
  • Most Direct cool Fridges come with convertible Freezers. You can change the cooling settings of the Freezer to turn it into Fridge thus increasing your Refrigerator space.
  • Since Direct cool Refrigerators use convection to cool the Fridge, sudden power cuts won’t immediately affect the food stored inside. Most Direct cool Refrigerators can keep the food cool for half a day even if there’s no electricity.
  • The manual way of defrosting the Fridge gives you more control over the process. You can decide the frequency of defrosting depending on your usage and the ice build-up.
  • Direct cool Refrigerators are more budget friendly due to their compact size and energy efficiency.

Cons

  • Manual method of defrosting needs more efforts from your side like cleaning up after defrosting is done
  • Direct cool Refrigerators produce uneven cooling which can spoil perishable items like fruits and vegetables. Frost free models can keep these items fresh for longer.

What is Frost free technology?

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Frost free Refrigerators use a series of fans and vents to effectively circulate cool air. This produces optimum cooling effect as the air reaches every corner of the Fridge compartment.

The Refrigerator also comes with sensors and thermostat that keeps a lookout for any ice build-up. By reducing the temperature time-to-time, Frost free Refrigerator prevents any heavy build-up of ice.

This is why Frost free Refrigerators are also called as no-frost, frostless, auto-defrost, self-defrosting etc. 

Frost free technology adds convenience to modern-day Refrigerators. To ensure the cool air covers every corner of the Fridge, air vents are suitably placed for optimum circulation.

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This method of distributing air produces uniform cooling in these Refrigerators.

However, the power consumed is more. Even the overall cost is higher as design and mechanism of cooling is slightly different.

Along with the air vents, Frost free Fridge comes with an intelligent detection system to keep a check on its temperature. Any ice formation of the walls is immediately dealt with.

The ice-cool water is taken to the condensate pan at the bottom of the Refrigerator. Here it gets evaporated by the heat generated from the cooling system.

Pros and cons of Frost-free Refrigerators

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Pros

  • Fans and air vents ensure uniform cooling. Food stays fresh for longer periods
  • No ice build-up. Hence no manual intervention required.
  • Available in larger sizes for families of 3 to 6 adults.

Cons

  • More expensive in terms of overall cost and power consumption
  • Cooling is immediately affected in case of power cuts. Hence not suitable for areas that have frequent load shedding.
  • If there’s a lot of water condensate collected in the pan, it may overflow and create a messy problem. The water has to be manually drained by taking out the pan in such cases. (occurs rarely)

What this means for you?

Do you want to avoid future regrets for getting the wrong Fridge? Then you need to be aware of the difference between Direct cool and Frost-free.

Direct cool and Frost free are the 2 cooling and defrosting techniques available in modern Refrigerators.

Knowing how the Refrigerator spreads cool air to all its corners indicates how long the food will remain fresh. This technology is combined with the defrost system which is crucial for the Refrigerator’s optimum performance.

Direct cool system cools the Fridge by convection and has to be manually defrosted. Frost free system, on the other hand, uses fans and vents to spread the cool air in its compartments.

There is also no defrosting required as the Fridge prevents formation of ice on its walls.

However, Direct cool technology is limited to smaller Refrigerators. Defrosting can also get tedious due to the cleaning needed.

This is why many consumers are picking Frost-free Refrigerators over Direct cool. But if you’re a bachelor or a couple who getting a Direct cool Fridge is still a better option.

And especially so if you don’t use the Freezer much.

Frost-free is a good option for larger families and if you’re willing to trade time for money. Frost-free Fridge may be costlier but it saves time as you don’t need to be involved in the defrosting process.

Now that you’re armed with information on Direct cool vs Frost free technology, you can take an informed decision.

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