Difference Between Air Conditioning And Refrigeration

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Difference Between Air Conditioning And Refrigeration

Air conditioning and refrigeration are similar in several ways. Both mechanisms involve the expansion of gases, adequately designed chemicals, and the conversion of gas to liquid. Apart from the similarities, there are several points of difference between air conditioning and refrigeration. It is easy to both these phenomena in industrial as well as domestic appliances. The students will get to understand the concepts simply and clearly with the difference between refrigeration and air conditioning tables.

What Does Air Conditioning Mean?

Air conditioning refers to the process of changing the temperature in the air with the removal of heat and moisture. The process thus makes a more comfortable inner environment in summers. An air conditioner has both an indoor as well as an outdoor unit connected with a pipe. The main difference between refrigeration and air conditioning is that air conditioning maintains the humidity as well as the temperature of the surrounding. The air conditioning term mainly covers any modern technology which modifies the state of air with its cleaning, dehumidification, cooling, heating, and ventilation. 

From the air conditioning and refrigeration difference, it is clear that the former one takes the hot air and then by the process of evaporation, cools it. AC has two major components, namely; condenser and evaporator. The entire system circulates the coolant in different aggregate states like gaseous and liquid. Its cooling process is quite similar to the process of heat pumps for heating. Both these procedures are based upon the principle of Carnot cycle. 

What Does Refrigeration Mean?

The term refrigeration refers to cooling. It is the technology that deals with the cooling process. Similar to the cooling process, which reduces the internal energy of the body by removal of heat energy. Refrigeration also refers to transferring heat from cold temperatures to hot temperatures. Talking about the refrigeration and air conditioning difference, the apparatus supplies thermal energy from cold temperature to high temperature in the refrigeration. However, in the case of air conditioning, the air is taken to lower the temperature in the surrounding space. 

For the refrigeration process, the liquid is used as equipment that is further converted to a gas at short temperatures. The coolants used are generally chlorofluorocarbons such as freons. Without being heated, freon coolant is transferred from the liquid state to the gas state. When it is in liquid form, it absorbs the heat. With a temperature rise, freon gets turned into a gas. Due to this process, the temperature of the matters kept inside the refrigerator falls. 

Difference Between Refrigeration And Air Conditioning Tables

AC comprises a condenser and a compressor as distinct units from the evaporator. However, the case is not true for refrigeration. In this case, the compressor, condenser, and evaporator serve as a single unit. Thus, it becomes efficient to differentiate between refrigeration and air conditioning with certain points of difference. Students can go through with the following refrigeration and air conditioning difference given 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.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How can you distinguish Refrigeration from an Air conditioner?

Ans: In the case of refrigeration, the supply of thermal energy takes place from a region to a place with higher temperature. However, the case of an air conditioner is entirely different as the thermal energy is taken so that air turns cool. However, in the natural flow of thermal energy, thermal energy transfers from high-temperature place to the low-temperature place. As the name suggests, air conditioner refers to cooling down air in which heat is removed from the specified location. However, refrigeration means to release hot air.

2. How can you define Mechanical refrigeration?

Ans: Mechanical refrigeration requires a man-made heat exchange system to operate. This exchange system helps in removing heat from a particular location. However, this exchange system can work differently for operations. It can be cyclic, non-cyclic, magnetic, or thermoelectric. It entirely depends upon the application of the refrigeration as you need. When the refrigerant enters into the cooling coil, it keeps changing its state into vapour state and hence absorbs heat. CRAC (computer room air conditioner) is the example for the working of mechanical refrigeration.