Comparison: Air Conditioner and Refrigerator

Air conditioner and refrigerator

Content Category

Refrigerator and air conditioner are common used household appliances. They bring us convenience for daily lives. But we also lack a basic understanding of them, so let’s learn some knowledge about them today.

Difference Between Air Conditioner and Refrigerator

1. Heat-dissipating Places

Air conditioner discharges the cold air into room and discharges the heat outside, which can ensure the room temperature is lower than outside.

Refrigerator is an all-in-one equipment. It only ensures the internal temperature is lower, and the temperature outside the refrigerator is not affected, so the refrigerator will directly dissipate the temperature to the outside of the refrigerator, that is, indoors.

AC working no good

Air Conditioner

2. Refrigerator Can Only Cool, Air Conditioner Can Both Cool and Heat

Refrigerator used to store food and divided into two modes: refrigeration and freezing.

Difference: The freezing temperature set at minus 18-20°C, which can achieve the effect of quick freezing. For example, fish needs to place for a long time and can quickly reach a very low temperature, so as to meet the requirements of preservation without destroying the quality.

The refrigeration temperature is 4-8°C, which can keep the inside temperature at this level all the time. Refrigeration is mainly used for preservation, and because the temperature is not very low, it still has a risk of bacteria breeding, so you need to clean and disinfect it regularly.

Air conditioner used to reduce indoor temperature in summer. The indoor temperature can be set at 16-30°C. You can adjust the indoor temperature according to the different outdoor temperatures. Generally, the indoor temperature set at 5-10 °C lower than outdoor’s; In winter, it can heat the room warm and comfortable.

3. Refrigerator Has An Insulation Layer, Air Conditioner Doesn’t Have

When refrigerator works, the “heat” moved from inside of the refrigerator to outside. Because the inside temperature is lower, the heat will re-enter the refrigerator from outside, causing the refrigerator compressor moving heat to outside repeatedly.

Main function of the refrigerator insulation layer is to isolate heat and prevent the outside heat from entering refrigerator, avoiding the cold air from dissipating.

Therefore, a good quality insulation layer can reduce the number of times the refrigerator switching on, so as to achieve the purpose of saving electricity.

Air conditioner needn’t have an insulation layer, just close the room door and windows, and switch on the air conditioner to achieve the effect of cooling or heating.

4. Compressors and Refrigerants

Compressor: Since the refrigerator temperature difference (45°C: Room temperature and refrigerator inside temperature) is greater than that of the air conditioner (20°C: Air inlet and outlet), refrigerator generally uses a piston compressor which can provide a higher compression ratio and temperature difference, and the energy efficiency is also lower (COP=2, 1 kWh of electricity produces 2 kWh of cooling capacity); In contrast, air conditioner normally uses rotary compressor, and the energy efficiency ratio is also higher than that of refrigerator (COP=3~4, 1 kWh of electricity produces 3-4 kWh of cooling).

Rotary Compressors: When temperature is greater than +7°C, the refrigeration efficiency is higher and fast.

Air conditioner compressor

Piston Compressor: Generally used in low-temperature environments such as refrigerator and cold storage. Whose refrigeration speed is slower under high-temperature conditions.

Refrigerator compressor

Both compressors can distinguish by their shape: most refrigerator compressors are round, with 3 external pipes, most of the input power is below 200W, using a 220V power supply, connected with external capacitors.

A few are horizontal, with higher input power, but not more than 300W.

The air-conditioning compressor with cooling capacity of more than 9000W adopts a scroll compressor, and also has a liquid return-bag & two external pipes, with a voltage of both 220V and 380V options.

Refrigerant:  Air conditioner uses R22/R410A/R32/R290 for excellent performance (notice: R22 refrigerant is forbidden in many countries and areas now), but can’t work in very low temperatures ( less than -15°C).

Refrigerators use R134a/R600 refrigerant normally.

5. Circulating System

Circulating system of the refrigerator keeps the cold air in the enclosed space (inside the refrigerator) to achieve the effect of cooling and storing food, but for air conditioner, the cold or hot air is released into the inside room.


6. Energy Consumption

Take a 1hp (hp = horsepower) split air conditioner as an example. Its output power is about 750w, which is 0.75 kWh per hour. If working 8 hours per day, it consumes 6 kWh of electricity.

For a refrigerator, the normal capacity is about 300L, and the power consumption per day is only 1.2-1.5 kWh, much smaller than air conditioner.

What’s more, air conditioner used in the living room or bedroom mostly is larger than 1hp, so at least each air conditioner consumes 10kWh per day.

7. Application

Refrigerator is used for domestic use, and industrial storage of frozen food.

Air conditioner is used in enclosed public places such as households, commercial buildings, apartments, stadiums, etc. Or large vehicles, such as buses, trains, planes, etc.

Refrigerator Has the Same Refrigeration Principle As Air Conditioner?

The answer is “Yes”.

Refrigeration principle of both is exactly the same, which is called “vapor compression refrigeration”.

Vapor compression refrigeration system is mainly composed of compressor, condenser, capillary tube, and evaporator, which connected each other by pipes to form a sealed system.

Compressor compresses the gaseous refrigerant into a high-temperature & high-pressure gaseous state and then sends it to the condenser for cooling. After cooling, it becomes the medium-temperature & high-pressure liquid refrigerant then enters the drying bottle for filtration and dehumidification.

The liquid refrigerant depressurizes the low-temperature & low-pressure gas-liquid mixture (more liquid) through the expansion valve (throttling component) then passes through the evaporator to absorb the heat in the air and vaporize( turning into a gaseous state), finally returning to the compressor to continue compressing, circulation for cooling.

Refrigerator’s evaporator is located in the freezing or refrigerating room; the compressor, condenser, and capillary tube are located outside.
The evaporator of air conditioner is located at the indoor unit; and the compressor, condenser, and capillary tube are located at the outdoor unit.

Vapor Compression Refrigeration Principle

Can Put Refrigerator and Air Conditioner Together?

Yes, you can.

But had better place them separately, otherwise it will affect the heat exchange effect of air conditioner.

As air conditioner input power becomes bigger, so you require a higher current socket and don’t share a socket with the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Can Be Used As Air Conditioner in Summer?

Can’t, the room temperature will be higher.

Opening the refrigerator door can’t reduce the room heat at all.

Meanwhile, as the electrical energy consumed by the refrigerator during the operation was eventually converted into heat energy and released into the room, the heat energy in the room will increase, resulting in an increase of the indoor temperature.

Refrigerator Special Use

1. Prolong the lifespan of stockings

Don’t unpack the newly bought stockings, and put them directly to freeze for 1-2 days.

After taking out for 12hrs then putting it on, the temperature changes can increase the toughness of the stockings and rarely damage the stockings.

2. Remove the gum

When the chewing gum is accidentally stuck to the object, you can freeze it together with the stuck object in the refrigerator.

After 1 hour, the chewing gum will become brittle and hard. Then take it out and gently use your fingernail to peel the gum off.

3. Remove the spicy taste

Put spices (onion, garlic, etc) in the refrigerator for 1 hour before cutting, then it won’t stimulate your eyes.

4. Kill book borers

Collected books will grow worms. Wrap the books in film plastic bags and put them in the frozen room of the refrigerator for 12 hours, and the worms will all freeze to death.

If the book is soaked in water, it’s easier to wrinkle and turn yellow even dried again.

Method: Smooth the wet book and put it in the refrigerator frozen room, after two days take it out, it will recover.

5. Prevent blistering after burnt

Immediately stick the burnt body into the refrigerator to relieve pain and avoid blistering.

6. Guarantee the tea quality

Tea, cigarettes, and medicines stored in the refrigerator will not deteriorate for 18 months.

Green Tea

7. Keep fish fresh in the refrigerator

Keeping fish in a fruit tray box in the refrigerator can keep them alive for several days without changing the water.

8. Beer ice cubes

Pouring beer, red wine, and brandy into the icebox to make solid ice wine cubes, which have a unique flavor.

9. Put the birthday candles in the refrigerator to cool for 24 hours, and then insert them on the cake so that the wax oil will not stain the cake.

10. The absorption effect will be better after the Facial mask is frozen in the refrigerator.

Frozen facial mask


Air conditioner has the same cooling principle as refrigerator, but they have different features as well.

We hope you can learn much knowledge than that from above, refrigerator and air conditioner are partners that can comfort your life.

Any comments?

Welcome leave a message or repost.

About Author

Vic Cheung
Vic Cheung

Hi, I'm Vic! Start working in HVACR field since 2008, our main products included: air conditioning, cold room refrigeration system, water chiller, ice machine, commercial dehydrator, dehumidifier, heat pump, electric motor, and all accessories. Since joined China Speedway Group in 2012, I worked in here more than 10 years, as the general manager of export department, we have established 50+ agent in different countries and areas.
As our experience and strong technical support, we can solve your issue once you have, and our chief engineer has worked in HVACR field since 1997. I am so proud of our knowlege is more and more popular not only for engineer, and for HVACR business new comer, DIY lovers. Hope you are enjoying our articles, if any question or comments just welcome to send me marketing at

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China Speedway Group is a professional HVACR products’ manufacturer and wholesaler, we customize different HVACR products and spare parts, especially refrigeration products and parts. Such as air conditioning, refrigeration equipment, cold room solution, ice machine, dehumidifier, electric motor, heat exchanger,copper coil, etc.

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