Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerators – What is the Difference?

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerators – What is the Difference?

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerators – Who will win? An in-depth analysis of the basic differences between direct cool technology and frost free refrigerators.

Refrigerators have become an integral part of our homes. The kitchen looks almost incomplete without a refrigerator and we cannot imagine our lives without one. Come to think of it, how did our ancestors manage without a refrigerator? Well, we will dig into that a little later. Let’s discuss the difference between Direct Cool and Frost Free Refrigerator.

Every year, a lot of the best refrigerators models enter the electronics market with new technology with respect to design, color, type, and features. Besides some old players, many new brands have also entered the market for refrigerators. There are two most popular cooling technologies that refrigerators use–Direct Cool Refrigerators and Frost Free Refrigerators.

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerators - Who Will Win The Battle?
Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Fridge – Who Will Win The Battle?

Direct cool technology is more old school and traditional type used mostly in single door refrigerators, while the frost-free technology is relatively modern. Before buying the best refrigerators or getting into a deep working principle of refrigerators. Let’s understand direct cool vs frost free fridge working analysis.

Direct Cool Refrigerator

Before analysing and comparing direct cool vs frost free fridge, some questions may arise in our mind–What is a direct cool refrigerator, how does it work and which refrigerators use it?

With a direct cool fridge, the natural convection process helps to cool the air circulated in the refrigerator. This leads to uneven distribution of cool air inside the refrigerator. In any way, you can’t control the temperature inside the fridge.

Remember shaving out ice from the ‘freezer’ compartment as a kid? That’s what direct cool technology is associated with. In this kind of refrigerator, the frost formation takes place from the water vapor present inside the refrigerator. And you can notice the ice formation in a refrigerator near its freezer box. In a direct cool technology, from time to time, manual defrosting is necessary. For the manual defrosting purpose, a knob or defrost button is provided in the fridge.

Moreover, you will find that direct cool refrigerator technology is usually used in single door refrigerators only. Due to its limited features, its demand is gradually reducing from the market. However, many people still prefer direct cool refrigerators over frost free refrigerators because of their personal requirements.

Benefits of Direct Cool Refrigerator

  • Effective in keeping food fresh for a shorter span
  • Economical
  • Less Maintenance
  • Suitable for small families

Disadvantages of Direct Cool Refrigerator

  • Frequent Manual Defrost due to ice formation

Frost Free Refrigerators

The first question that arises in our mind is what is frost free technology and how is it different from direct cool technology? The invention of the frost free fridge has made our lives simpler, that’s for sure.

In this kind of refrigerator, the natural convention method is not used to distribute the cool air evenly. The electric fans present inside the refrigerator help to distribute the temperature evenly. As the cool air distributes evenly within the fridge, it eliminates the chances of formation of any ice or frost. You don’t need to defrost it manually. The particular refrigerator usually has a timer. The power supply of the fridge is automatically cut when the fridge’s temperature reaches its maximum limit and restarts when the temperature drops.

In some of the frost free models, a heating system is present inside the fridge to lower the temperatures when the cooling is extremely high to protect the produce. This feature in the refrigerator helps to maintain a constant temperature throughout.

Benefits of Frost-Free Refrigerator

  • Spacious for large families
  • Comes with a thermostat which helps to monitor temperature.
  • Easy to Maintain
  • Comes with electric fans for cooling
  • No need to defrost the freezer at all

Disadvantages of Frost-Free Refrigerator

  • Expensive compared to direct cool
  • Consumes high electricity

Related Reading:

Power Consumption in Refrigerator

Direct Cool Refrigerator vs Frost Free Refrigerator – In Depth Comparison

Before you go to the market or any online shopping website to buy a refrigerator, you need to understand the functioning of different types of refrigerators. Many people get confused with direct cool and frost free refrigerators. We are mentioning some differences between both the categories of the refrigerators below:

1. Cost

In the battle of direct cool versus frost free refrigerators, refrigerators using direct cool technology are much cheaper compared to the frost free refrigerators.

1.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

Single door refrigerators with direct cool technology can cost anywhere between Rs 10,000/- to Rs 18,000/-.

1.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

Frost free double door refrigerators belong to a very different segment and can cost anywhere between Rs 20,000/- to Rs 30,000/-.

If you are muddling over ‘Are frost free refrigerators worth it?’, decide on the budget first. Once the budget is settled, then decide on which technology is best suited for you and your home.

2. Power Consumption

Let us find out which refrigerator consumes more power.

2.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

A direct cool refrigerator consumes less power or electricity than the frost free model. There are no external fans in a direct cool refrigerator.

2.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

The basic reason for the difference between direct cool and frost free refrigerator models is that frost free fridge uses external fans to distribute the cool air evenly inside the fridge. Moreover, a frost-free refrigerator uses a heating system in it, which results in more electricity consumption.

Related Reading:

How Much Electricity Does A Fridge Use per Month

3. Freshness Of The Food

We will find out which model is better and effective in keeping the freshness of the food.

3.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

If you take a shorter time interval into consideration, then a direct cool refrigerator is better than a frost free model in retaining the freshness of food.

3.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

But for a longer duration or interval, a frost-free refrigerator works better considering the freshness of food due to the fan speed and even distribution of air.

4. Type Of Refrigerator

What different refrigerator options do we have if we go frost free than a direct cool refrigerator?

4.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

Direct cool technology is mostly in a single door refrigerator only, because of its property of an uneven distribution of the temperature within it.

4.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

However, frost free fridges come with double doors, triple doors and side-by-side doors. This feature allows you to buy refrigerators with unique designs and specifications. However, there are certain disadvantages of triple door fridge as they are not as energy efficient as their counterparts.

5. Family Size And Requirement

Which model of refrigerator is best also depends on one’s requirement and family size. 

5.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

The minimum capacity of a direct cool refrigerator is 150 litres, whereas the maximum capacity is 200 litres. So, if you are living alone or a small family, then you can choose the direct technology model (single door refrigerator).

5.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

The capacity of a frost free fridge ranges from 200 Litres to 650 Litres. A large family or a family with more storage needs should always opt for the frost free double door refrigerator.

frost free side by side refrigerator
Frost free refrigerator comes with different capacity.

6. Maintenance Of The Refrigerator 

In the duel between direct cool is better or frost free refrigerators is better, it doesn’t matter whatever model of refrigerator you buy, but its maintenance is quite crucial and necessary.

6.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

In case of a direct cool fridge, you need to clean it regularly. Your usage decides the amount of cleaning required. As frost formation takes place regularly, you need to shut down the fridge so that the ice melts down and the fridge functions properly. 

You also need to clean the interior areas of the fridge regularly. Moreover, this can accelerate the food contamination rate as the cooling may reduce due to frost formation.

6.2 Frost Free Refrigerator

Whereas, in case of a frost free refrigerator, it doesn’t need more maintenance as compared to the direct cool model as no frost formation takes place in it.

7. Heating Issue

While buying a refrigerator, the heating issue is one of the factors one must definitely look for.

7.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

In the case of the direct cool fridge, it follows the conventional method of cooling. This method is natural and takes place with the air already inside the refrigerator. So, the external parts of the refrigerator do not face any heating issues.

7.2 Frost Free Refrigerator

A frost free fridge has a heating system built in it. This is a primary factor when you are contemplating over refrigerators models. It uses external fans to distribute the cold air evenly inside. Both these factors combine together to form heating up of the external parts of the refrigerator. The back side of the frost free fridge gets heated up when used continuously for a long time.

8. The Rear Side Of The Refrigerator

Another factor to consider is the rear side of the refrigerator. As technology advances each day, the outer mechanism of the refrigerator has also been modified. Now refrigerators have a plain back, unlike refrigerators from olden times.

8.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

The rear side of a direct cool model has coil exposed in its back, which leads to the accumulation of dust.

8.2 Frost Free Refrigerator

The rear side of a frost free refrigerator is fully covered.

9. Settings

Unlike the direct cool refrigerators, the frost free models come with additional settings and also touch panels so as to make the customers easy to operate the fridge. Moreover, you can also set a timer for different functions for the refrigerator.

10. Design And Space

These days, most fridges are trendy to look at.

10.1 Direct Cool Refrigerator

The direct cool refrigerator, as most are single door, do not have a lot of storage space when compared to the double door refrigerators.

10.2 Frost-Free Refrigerator

Frost free refrigerators have separate compartments for storing different items. In some models, it also allows you to adjust the temperature for specific compartments. Larger vegetable compartments and side door panels can help maximise your produce storage. 

11. Brand, Durability And After-Sale Services

Commonly available brands like Samsung, Whirlpool, Bosch, Godrej, Haier and LG have a brand value that will provide you with proper guarantee/ warranty on the product. Make sure you check for availability of spare parts and after-sale services before making the purchase. Rely on dependable brands that provide good after-sale services.

Direct cool refrigerators are losing their popularity nowadays whereas frost free refrigerators are becoming more popular due to its functioning method, design, and efficiency.

As the purchasing power of the people is increasing, they are buying more efficient, powerful and well-designed refrigerators.

The Basics To Buy The Right Refrigerator

In case of direct cool versus frost free refrigerators, no matter what type of refrigerator it is, you should always keep a check on the following features of a refrigerator before buying it –

1. Capacity

It is common to find that two types of capacities are displayed on a refrigerator – gross and net. So, you need to find out the correct usable capacity of the particular refrigerator before buying it. If you have a large family, then go for a larger capacity (450-650 L) , or else you can go for the smaller or medium one (180-250 L).

2. Star Rating And Energy Consumption

Nowadays, before buying any electronic item, customers first enquire about the BEE star rating and energy consumption of the particular product. The same is in the case of a refrigerator.

There is a term called EER, which means Energy Efficiency Rating. It shows or denotes the efficiency of your electronic appliance. You should always look for the higher-rated models. The efficiency level is directly proportional to the rating given.

Apart from the rating on the refrigerator, you should also check the kWh or the total units of electricity that your refrigerator will use in a year. Moreover, to ensure that the energy rating is authentic, you should look for the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) logo on the refrigerator.

star rating
Star rating show how efficient refrigerator is in energy saving.

Nowadays, electricity bills are becoming a major concern for many households as they are using or running numerous electronic items in their respective houses. So, buying the correct rated refrigerator can save some of your money. Moreover, the level of electricity consumption of a refrigerator also depends on the number of times you open the door of it. Because whenever you open the door, the fridge consumes extra electricity or power to maintain the cooling temperature.

3. Type of Compressor

A compressor is a vital part of a refrigerator, as it works as the cooling unit. You can find two types of compressors in the market now- Regular compressor and inverter or digital compressor.

A normal compressor runs at a constant speed. It does not alter its speed even if cooling loss happens. But on the other hand, a digital compressor alters its speed according to the amount of cooling required inside the refrigerator. The normal compressor is fine for smaller refrigerators.

But if you are thinking of buying a larger refrigerator, then it is advised to choose the digital compressor. Moreover, the digital compressor is more efficient as compared to the normal compressor. Now days, almost all medium-sized and large-sized fridges come with the digital compressors.

4. The Add-ons

Larger refrigerators have a multi-storage capacity in them. It is evident that medium and large-sized refrigerators come with many advanced features attached to them such as deodorizer, in-built voltage stabilizer, door alarm, touch panel, etc. Some refrigerators also come with a cool pad, which helps to keep the food items fresh during power cuts.

So, you should look for the right and latest features before buying a refrigerator or any other electronic item. But the add-ons will pull extra money out of your pocket too.

5. Technology used 

As we discussed above, direct cool refrigerators use a conventional method of cooling. So, frost starts to appear at certain places. But it is not in the case of any frost free refrigerator.

As the direct cool refrigerators provide an instant cooling facility, they are the right fit for industrial purposes while the frost free technology is suited for residential use.

Direct Cool Refrigerator vs Frost-Free Refrigerator–Verdict

Today, every household in India requires a refrigerator because it is useful in preserving raw food items and ready-made foods. There are two types of cooling technologies available for refrigerators in the market- direct cool refrigerator and frost-free refrigerator. Both varieties of refrigerators carry distinct features with them. Generally, customers face a dilemma regarding direct cool vs frost free fridge.

Parameters

Direct Cool Technology

Frost Free Technology

Type of refrigerator Mainly single door Double door, side-by-side and triple door
Freezer Build Up Yes No
Cooling Method Conventional method of cooling Uses external fans to maintain regular cooling temperature
Defrost Method Manual defrosting required No defrosting required

Today, with the increase in the purchasing power of the people, the craze for advanced electronic items is also increasing. Though the frost free refrigerator is costlier than the direct cool model, it comes with a series of features along with it. Frost free refrigerators provide you the option for larger space, better design, advanced features, trendy looks. Apart from this, they also come with an inverter or digital compressors.

You can buy any type of refrigerator according to your own needs. But before buying a refrigerator or any electronic item, you should always remember some basic points. Always check the BEE Star rating of any electronic item before buying it. This can help you cut down on your electricity bill. Moreover, buy the refrigerator according to the capacity needed by your family. In addition to this, if you get a chance to choose between a normal compressor and a digital compressor, then always go for a digital compressor-fitted electronic item.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still in the dilemma of which is better, we answered the most asked FAQs about the difference between direct cool and frost free refrigerator.

1. Are frost-free refrigerators worth the price?

Frost-free refrigerators are more expensive compared to direct cool. As they offer more storage and flexibility. They are equipped with many features. Frost-free refrigerator comes with different compartments, doors, and sizes. 

A frost-free refrigerator comes with a thermostat that monitors the temperatures. It keeps the food fresh for a longer span. They are easy to maintain and clean. 

2. Which is better: frost-free or direct cool refrigerator?

Both have unique features and can be used depending on the requirements. Direct cool is best suited for small families and is an economical budget-friendly option. Whereas Frost free is well suited for a large family and who needs more storage and features. They are easy to clean and maintain.

3. How do I get rid of frost in my frost-free freezer?

To get rid of frost from the freezer, follow the steps below:

  • Empty your freezer
  • Unplug freezer
  • Boil water and fill it in a bottle.
  • Spray the frost with hot water.
  • Once done, let dry out the freezer completely.

4. Should you defrost a frost-free refrigerator?

One common reason for frost accumulation in a frost-free refrigerator is a damaged door seal. A frost-free refrigerator defrosts the refrigerator with the heating element. There is no need for defrosting in a frost-free refrigerator unless needed.

Team Mishry

Team Mishry is our team of researchers, reviewers, digital content producers, and writers who are part of every review in our test kitchen. They test, taste, and tirelessly break down a product's features, discuss pros and cons and arrive at a final verdict after much debate, deliberations and dialogue. All the reviews where crucial inputs have been derived from multiple team members are where the byline belongs to the entire team - Team Mishry!

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