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Difference Between Air Conditioning And Refrigeration

Last updated date: 16th Jul 2024
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Physical Concepts behind Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

The air conditioner and the refrigerator both work on the principles of heat sinks. Both the devices function to cool the temperature of a closed space while transferring the heat from a source which is usually the closed space to another place called a sink. This process consists of 4 thermodynamic stages which when combined together result in the transformation of electrical or mechanical energy into a thermal heat absorption system.

The working mechanisms of both the Air Conditioner and the Refrigerator involve the expansion of gases, adequately designed chemicals, and the conversion of gas to liquid. Also, there are several differences between air conditioning and refrigeration. Students will get more clarity about the concepts and differences between refrigeration and air conditioning by the table given below.

What are Air Conditioners and Refrigerators?

Air Conditioners are cooling devices that are generally used to cool large spaces like rooms or halls. The capacity of the air conditioner depends upon the requirement of the users and how much space does it need to cool. The AC is widely used now in almost every public utility space like conference halls, metros, trains and even buses. Temperatures soar to extreme levels during Indian summers and hence the AC have become an essential feature of all major events during this time period.  Domestic usage of AC during the summer season in homes is also very common. 

Refrigerators, on the other hand, are used to cool relatively small dimensions of space which are generally used for the preservation of food items and also in some cases medical equipment.  Refrigerators or fridges as they are more commonly known are an essential feature of every home as their usage for domestic purposes is very essential for a tropical country like India. Apart from homes, the fridge is also used in restaurants, storage of perishable food items and also for preserving medical items.

The Differences between a Refrigerator and AC in a Tabular Form

Points of Difference


Air Conditioning

Thermal Energy

In refrigeration, there is a transfer of thermal energy from a place at a cold temperature to a place at a higher temperature. 

In AC, thermal energy is taken away to keep the air at a cool temperature.


The refrigeration parts include a compressor, condenser, and evaporator in one unit.

From the evaporator, the condenser and compressor have a separate unit in air conditioning. 


It generally deals with regulating the air temperature, such as freezing or cooling products.

It deals with preserving the temperature of a certain air capacity in surroundings. Apart from it, the main difference between refrigeration and air conditioning is that AC helps in maintaining humidity and purity. 


As compared with AC, refrigeration units cycle HFC into a low-pressure chamber that is specifically designed to boil the gas. 

To convert a liquid into a gas, AC comprises an evaporator. 


The key difference between refrigeration and air conditioning lies in the supply point. The required internal chemicals plus air needed is supplied from the atmosphere. 

The mechanism is supplied with gas from the pipes. 

Circulation Systems

In the case of refrigeration, circulated systems are designed to preserve coolant in a restricted space.

AC has a circulation system with an objective to project cool air away from the parts.

FAQs on Difference Between Air Conditioning And Refrigeration

1. What are the common usages of AC and Refrigerators?

Both the AC and the fridge are very common in Indian households nowadays. They find usage in almost every home although the necessity of a refrigerator far exceeds that of the AC. For long-distance journeys, people prefer AC class coaches in Railways although they are many times more expensive than the sleeper class tickets. In gyms, malls, schools, and coaching institutes, An air-conditioning system has become a necessity and organisations usually spend a large amount to ensure seamless air conditioning.

2. What are the disadvantages of using AC and refrigerators?

The biggest harm caused by the use of AC and fridge is done to the environment. Both these systems use the CFC or chlorofluorocarbon gas which is generally inert at ground level but due to their lightweight, they rise atop the atmosphere and have caused damage to the ozone layer. This damage has been so severe that the ozone layer has almost completely vanished from some parts of the higher atmosphere.

3. Why are fridges and ACs measured in Tonnes?

The calculation of the cooling strength of an AC or fridge is very difficult. Both of these devices work on complex cooling systems which consume a lot of energy but are designed very differently according to the specific requirement. Hence to avoid confusion, scientists came up with the measurement indicator of tonnes where 1 Tonne stands for the heat required to melt 1 Tonne of ice at 0 degrees Celsius.

4. What are the alternatives to using ACs and fridges?

As we have found out that the AC and fridge cause damage to the environment, we have to look for more nature-friendly ways in which we can meet our needs which do not cause harm to the environment. We see that in dry areas of the country like Rajasthan and Gujarat, the local people often use coolers that run on the supply of water and are way more energy efficient than the Air conditioners. Earthen pots can be used to store water which keeps them cool and gives them a good taste instead of using the fridge.

5. What are the important things to remember while solving questions on refrigeration?

The question on refrigeration can be asked from a wide array of topics, like the processes involved in cooling of the space, what is the principle behind the device, what are the differences between an AC and a fridge, etc. In order to answer these questions, you should be properly versed with the physical aspects of the subject while also keeping in mind the environmental and socio-economic impact of the AC and fridge.