Difference between refrigeration and air conditioning

In a general view, there are many things that seem similar in refrigeration and air conditioning. Both these machines utilize the physical effects of compression, specially designed chemicals, and the expansion of gas. They also work on the mechanism of converting gas into a liquid that leads to the development of cooling effects. However, as both these systems are used for different purposes, some aspects show the difference between refrigeration and air conditioning especially in their operations and technical procedures.

Below is a detailed comparison between two cooling systems that will help you to understand the difference and learn about their working and mechanisms as well.

What is the technical difference between refrigeration and air conditioning

Introduction to Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

In the process of refrigeration, the thermal heat from the area with a lower temperature is transferred to the area with a higher temperature. It means that the heat from inside the refrigerator is taken and thrown outside the refrigerator in the open area.

But during the process of air conditioning, the thermal energy is taken and moisture is extracted from the air of an occupied space, and space is cooled up due to the removal of heat from the atmosphere.   

Almost all the home appliances of these types normally use the heat pumps and refrigerators’ application for the cooling process and they always come in a compact design, which means that whole components are equipped in a single machine.

An air conditioner unit has an indoor and an outdoor unit which are connected using pipes usually of copper. The air and moisture is extracted from the high-temperature air, the air is then heated, compressed, and condensed to an extent that it turns into liquid. This liquid gas is then evaporated in the air conditioner and the condenser helps in cooling up this liquid gas and throws the cool air from the indoor unit that cools up the room’s atmosphere.

Key differences between the refrigeration and air conditioning

                  Air Conditioning                      Refrigeration
Thermal Energy is removed from the inside place to keep the air cooler and comfortable for the human body.Thermal Energy is removed from a place with a lower temperature to a place with a higher temperature.
This type of cooling is usually implemented to cool a large, occupied space.It works against the natural flow of heat and is only used to cool a small closed area.
It requires proper and efficient air circulation.There is no requirement of air circulation in refrigeration.
It maintains the temperature of a certain place at a specified volume and also ensures to keep the place pure and humid.It only has to keep on regulating the temperature to make sure that the products in it can have the required cooling or freezing temperature.
An evaporator is a separate unit and the compressor or condenser is separate, as an indoor and outdoor unit.A single compact unit is equipped with all the components including the evaporator, condenser, compressor, etc.
The total mechanism is supplied through the copper tubes or pipes from one unit to the other.Internal chemicals, air, and every required factor is supplied directly from the environment.
The cool air is pushed outside from the indoor unit.The cool air is kept inside the refrigerator unit to ensure maximum cooling.
The range of temperature in air conditioners is low as it can only go up to 10 to 16 Degrees Celsius.The temperature range of the refrigeration system is much higher as it can go even into a negative temperature range such as -10, -15, or more.
The maximum temperature in the positive range of the air conditioning unit can go up to 25 degrees celsius.In most of the refrigeration units, the maximum positive temperature remains within 4 to 5 degrees celsius.
An air conditioning unit requires a large volume of air to work properly and provide enough cooling.A refrigeration system can easily reach the required temperature requiring a relatively small volume of air.
Usually, an air conditioner does not include any de-icing functionalities.The refrigeration system comes with a de-icing feature that is considered necessary due to its using purpose.

One major factor to keep in mind is that the process of refrigeration is considered ideal only for products such as foods and drinks, and a human may not be able to survive if left locked in its cool atmosphere for a long time (about 2 weeks).

Refrigerator vs air conditioner power consumption

One thing is common in both the refrigerator and air conditioner and it is known as the compressor. Most of the power consumption is done in this part of the unit because it is responsible for almost all the major activity for cooling purposes. It pressurizes the refrigerant and releases the heat to the condenser coils. Do keep this fact in mind the larger a compressor is, the more electricity will be required resulting in higher power consumption.

The standard measuring unit for refrigeration is ounces and pounds is used for the air conditioning. Energy efficiency plays an important role when it comes to power consumption, make sure you opt for a brand that has a much energy-efficient product so that the unit consumes less voltage.

Talking about the average consumption, a high quality, and energy-efficient refrigerator uses an average of 475 to 550 Watts per Hour that makes a monthly power consumption of about 45 to 55 KWh. 

As compared to a refrigerator, an air conditioner uses twice the electricity as it consumes up to 900 Watts per Hour which can make up to a monthly total of about 130 to 150 KWh. An air conditioner requires a large compressor because it has to cool a large occupied area and deal with the purity and humidity in the room as well. On the other hand, the refrigerator only has to cool a small and closed area without any other concerns. Therefore, no matter what brand you are using or how efficient your air conditioner is, it will always consume more power than your refrigerator, but this can be reduced to an extent with proper operating and maintenance.

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