The refrigerator has been one of the most important innovations in home appliances category over the last century. Though once a luxury, but thanks to the liberalization and boom of the Indian economy, it’s now an indispensable appliance in the Indian household. With the rising middle class and larger disposable income, demand for the refrigerators have witnessed a robust double-digit growth over last few years. Rising demands has also propelled the manufacturers to come up with path-breaking innovation to improve the utility of refrigerator. So, if you are someone who has not shopped for a while you would be amazed to see latest refrigerators, loaded with tons of features ensuring food remains fresh for longer. In this article, we will cover all the latest and trending technologies new refrigerators come with so that the next time you decide to purchase a refrigerator you can make a smart decision.
Classification of Refrigerators
Before starting with the refrigerator technologies, it is important to know what are different types of refrigerators, so you can get better get the gist of each technology, specific to the type of the refrigerator. Here is a concise list of refrigerator types with their prominent characteristics in the increasing order of volume/capacity:
- Compact refrigerator: Also known as bar refrigerator, this is the smallest type of refrigerator typically coming with the volume in the range of 50 to 100 liters. The main advantage is that they are cheap and portable. The downside is inefficiency for the given volume. Very few brands (like Godrej and Haier) offers this type of refrigerator.
- Single door refrigerator: This is the most popular type of refrigerator generally coming in the capacity range of 150 to 250 liters suitable for a nuclear/small family. All major brands (with Hitachi being the exception) offers this category of the refrigerator.
- Double door refrigerator (conventional): Conventional double door refrigerator comes with two doors, with top door occupying less than one-third of the total size, for freezer while the bigger bottom part for the normal refrigerator. This model generally offers the largest variety and are usually the most energy efficient for the given volume. Their capacity range is from 250 lts and above.
- Bottom mounted refrigerator: This class of refrigerator contains two doors, but with the freezer compartment at the bottom. This type of refrigerator is more suited for the families which use less amount of frozen food as it would avoid the need of frequent bending for pulling out food from the refrigerator.
- Side-by-side refrigerator: In the side-by-side models, the refrigerator is generally split into two halves, one half with larger space/volume for the freezer and the narrower another side for the freezer. Also, worth noting is that they usually come with handy features like inbuilt water & ice dispenser and external user interface panel.
- French door refrigerator: French door refrigerators are usually the biggest and most versatile class of refrigerator coming with around 3 or more doors. French door refrigerators are ideal for big affluent families who want to well categorize their food items and want the best of refrigerator features.
Key Refrigerator Technologies 2018
Convertible Refrigerator for Optimized Refrigeration
Managing a multi-door refrigerator in an optimized way can be challenging. Because there are times when you don’t need the freezer or just have a small quantity of food to store. In such cases, big brands like Samsung and LG offers a convertibility option which allows the freezer to be converted to the fridge or to even shut off the freezer/fridge compartment altogether. Samsung models like RT65K7 and RT61K7 are the best in offering this functionality as they offer 5 different convertible options mentioned as follows:
- Normal mode: This is the usual mode with the top compartment of the refrigerator used as freezer while the bigger bottom part for normal refrigeration. With this option enabled, users can not just have a fridge space that keeps a fresh supply of food for long but also a freezer which gives ice faster.
- Extra Fridge mode: Extra Fridge mode gives the liberty to convert freezer compartment into the normal This feature is useful for someone who often ends up bringing home more bags of vegetables than that can be stuffed inside the refrigerator.
- Seasonal mode: Seasonal mode allows to turn off the freezer without impacting the smooth functioning of the refrigerator compartment. This function is useful when there aren’t any food items left for freezing.
- Vacation mode: Refrigerator works 24×7, 365 days a year (provided no power cuts occur). This means they are incessantly consuming electricity. There would be times when the user would move out of your home/city for vacation, wedding, or other purposes. That too for a longer period of days. Obviously then, neither they would be carrying along the refrigerator nor would be anyone using it. But the ordinary refrigerator would keep on vociferously piling up on electricity units. To rescue users out of this predicament, Samsung offers Vacation mode wherein user can simply turn off the bottom refrigerator compartment while only the freezer compartment continues to work usually.
- Home Alone mode: Home Alone mode is the most energy saving mode wherein users can simply shut down the refrigerator compartment and shift all the small stock of perishables to the top compartment which is now converted into a mini refrigerator.
Taking cues from its Samsung, LG also offers something called Dual Fridge. Using Dual Fridge technology users can convert the freezer into the normal refrigerator. LG’s converter technology is arguably the fastest with conversion time being less than 70 minutes.
Ice Beam Door, Dual Fan and 360o Airflow for All-around Cooling
Cooling technology has seen a significant improvement over last few years. The modern refrigerator comes with strategically placed cooling vents which ensures the cool air inside the refrigerator is circulated in a uniform manner, so there is no discrepancy in the cooling.
Modern single and double door refrigerators from Haier come with a technology called 360 Degree Air Flow that maintains the even temperature throughout the refrigerator. It circulates air uniformly in multiple directions from its multi air flow vents so that every corner of the refrigerator is evenly cooled. This air flow system helps to cleanly keep the interior uniformly cool, free from any odd frozen or warm spots. Thus, the stored food item remains fresh for longer with this astutely designed air flow system.
Like 360-degree Airflow offered by Haier, Whirlpool offers 3D Airflow technology which imparts uniform cooling through a strategically placed pair of flexible vents. It also allows the user to set the direction of cool air.
New double door refrigerators from LG comes with Ice Beam Door Cooling technology that maintains the even temperature throughout the refrigerator. It circulates air uniformly in multiple directions from its multi air flow vents along with the back so that every corner of the refrigerator is evenly cooled. This decreases the temperature gap between the inner part and the door side of the compartment. Thus, the stored food item remains fresh for longer. Also, they do this uniform cooling 35% faster than the conventional cooling system.
Archaic models of refrigerators usually come with a single fan which takes the burden of cooling both—refrigerator and freezer. But most of the new Samsung, Godrej, and Hitachi refrigerators come with a dual fan system which enables independent cooling of the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Using two separate fans, it effectively circulates the cold air throughout the refrigerator. Thanks to Dual Fan Air Jet technology, premium Hitachi refrigerators are capable of cooling the refrigerator even in the scorchingly high ambient temperature of 60°C.
A Perfect Blackout Backup with Cooling Gel, Cooling Wall, and Insulated Capillary
Power cuts and load shedding is commonplace in India, especially in distant towns and villages. Since refrigeration generally works 24×7, it is a home appliance most susceptible to the erratic blackouts. Power cuts poise two problems for the refrigerator. First is the spoilage of food in case if power cuts persist for a longer duration of time. Second is much more hazardous—damage to the refrigerator due to voltage fluctuations. Modern refrigerator armed with technologies like cooling gel can assuage the impact of power cuts. Most of the modern refrigerators from reputed brands like Samsung, Whirlpool, Godrej etc comes with a cooling gel, which is released in the form of cool gas, which is then circulated inside the refrigerator to keep it cool for several hours.
StayCool is a cooling gel technology from Godrej. StayCool keeps the food well frozen for few hours without power, and keep the freezer compartment cold even in the absence of electricity. This means even ice cream kept inside the refrigerator won’t melt for few hours in case of blackouts.
Samsung is the first manufacturer in India to come with a Cool Wall inside the refrigerator—an especially designed wall which retains cooling even during power cuts for several hours. It beautifully compliments the Cool Pack—a cooling gel technology, to keep the food items inside the refrigerator chilled for up to 12 hours during the power cuts.
Besides the usual cooling gel modern direct cool Whirlpool refrigerators also come with insulated capillary technology. Now, ordinary refrigerators come with the capillary that provides refrigerant to the freezer, loses the cooling when exposed to the environment (during the door opening) but the Whirlpool’s insulated capillary technology surrounds the capillary with the super cold gas. With this technology, the freezer achieves the cold temperature as low as -26oC. Insulated capillary technology helps to retain the freezer’s cooling even during the power cuts for up to 12 hours.
Similarly, in Haier refrigerator to compliment the effect of cooling gel, inner edges of the refrigerators come with diamond shape design. The main benefit of this design is that it slows down the process of ice melting. This becomes a very useful during the power cuts, helping to prolong the cooling retention period.
Spacious and Customizable Interiors
The modern refrigerator comes with a lot of options and styles to store the food items with complete flexibility, in form of shelves, crispers, chillers, bottle holders and wine racks.
For those who don’t know, crisper is the bottom-most compartment of the refrigerator used for storing vegetables and fruits. Whirlpool offers a gamut of crisper types and designs:
- Fresh & Sort crisper: A crisper style wherein a mini-crisper is given inside the main crisper. This is done to sort the type of stored material. Fruits can be stored inside the mini crisper while rest of crisper can be stuffed with vegetables.
- Twin Seal crisper: A simple crisper style to separately allocate space for vegetables and fruits
- Trizone crispers: To sort vegetables into three different zones to maintain freshness and moisture. This way even vegetables can further be sorted, and the intermixing of odors can be avoided.
Another important feature of modern Whirlpool refrigerator is the adapta shelves. They offer a great flexibility for adjusting shelves. Its zigzag shape holder is flexible enough to adapt to various kind and size of storage. It is one of the most customizable ways of managing the space within the refrigerator easily.
Vegetable crispers given in the new high-end Haier models are roughly 50% bigger than the conventional ones. An important utility of this crisper is that it can be easily removed even if the space for opening the door is less, thanks to its 90 Degree Contour door design. This would be a boon for the users who plan to install their refrigerator in a place where the complete opening of the door would be difficult.
Godrej’s new series of double door refrigerators come with a unique polybag suspender with hooks to conveniently hang the frozen food items. Also, few models from the premium NXW series come with smart collapsible wine rack capable of holding 5 bottles.
Usage of LED Bulbs for Brighter Lightning with Energy Saving
The lighting system in most of the modern refrigerator has been replaced with LEDs. Modern refrigerators from Samsung are equipped with new LED lighting which is not only slimmer but also softer and much more energy efficient. As they occupy lesser space, they help in increasing the usable fridge space for storing the perishables. This LED lighting system emits 10 times lesser heat than the ordinary bulbs. This means food would remain much more immune to temperature swings owing to the lighting arrangement. This LED comes with eco-technology which consumes 20 times less power than conventional light bulbs.
LG’s flagship refrigerator LG Signature comes with premium Lumishelf LED lighting under each shelf to give brighter and clearer view of refrigerator’s interior even if it is fully stuffed. The LED bulbs used by LG helps in reducing the energy consumption by up to 77%. The best part is that they are around 26 times more durable than the conventional lamps found in older refrigerators. Consumers can save a good sum of money as they consume much less amount of energy while having a good longevity, meaning lesser repairs and replacements.
Apart from the LED lighting, Godrej refrigerators come with another advanced feature, motion sensing lights that can detect any movement. Based upon on the detected action, it illuminates the area where the user is looking for food or trying to arrange the food items.
Digital Inverter Compressor for Optimized Refrigeration, Energy Saving, and Noise Reduction
Digital Inverter technology is arguably the most important innovation, pushing the boundaries of water refrigeration technology. To know the significance of having digital inverter compressor, we first need to know how conventional compressor works. Compressors in the old/cheap refrigerators come with single speed motor. They are either “on” or “off” based on the temperature in the refrigerator. Such compressors are designed to work incessantly at the peak load conditions (for high temperatures in summers), which means that they run at peak load even in winters when the cooling requirement is less.
As an upgrade to this simple compressor manufacturers has come up with inverter compressor technology. Samsung and LG lead the pack in this department as they come with most advanced inverters and are the only two brands giving inverter technology even in single door refrigerators.
Samsung arms its compressor with a smart digital inverter with 7 adjustable speeds to suit different cooling demands. Working of the compressor with inverter technology is analogous to the car accelerator. When the speed required is more, the acceleration is more, and when it is less, and then the acceleration is less. This makes sure that during the summer season when the cooling load is more, the compressor works at the peak capacity taking more electricity. But during winters when the cooling load is less, the compressor runs at the lower speeds thereby consuming less electricity. Even during summers, the night temperature is less than the day temperature. Thus, electricity is saved even during the late evenings when compressor can run at a lesser speed.
LG, on the other hand, provides even more advanced and energy efficient Inverter Linear Compressor which save up to 32% energy by adjusting cooling power depending on the amount of food loaded in the refrigerator. Because they use piston drive in place of the reciprocal one, refrigeration performs with optimal efficiency leading to big energy savings. This compressor operates within a temperature range of ±0.5°C—almost half the temperature variation as compared to the ordinary compressor. Compressor comes with fewer friction points that greatly reduces noise (up to 25%).
Thus, in this article, we saw all the major happening technologies in the world of refrigerators. We also learned how they are influencing and easing out our cooling requirement. Samsung and LG have usually been the vanguard in the refrigeration technology and innovation.
Convertible refrigerators allowing users to completely customized their cooling need is one of the appealing innovation in refrigeration technology. Dual fan, ice beam door, and 3D airflow ensure that the cooling air is distributed evenly and restricts the ambient heat from entering the refrigerator. Chilling gel with cooling wall and diamond edges ensures that the cooling remains inside the refrigerator for long even during the power cuts; while stabilizer-free operation ensures that when the power comes back there is no harm to the refrigerator. As we mentioned earlier, inverter compressor is the most useful innovation in the refrigeration industry helping to deliver optimized cooling, reduction in energy consumption, lesser noise, longer life and a reduced the carbon footprint.
About the Author:
Hussain Kanchwala is an Electronics Engineer from University of Mumbai. As an Analyst at BijliBachao he keeps a tab on latest technologies in gadgets and appliances, tracks businesses of white goods companies and monitors the consumer behavior. With a background in engineering, penchant for detail, and flair for writing he regularly write reviews about brands and their products. More from this author.