How Does A Propane Refrigerator Work: All You Need To Know


By Arindam Roy

If you want to learn how a propane refrigerator works, it’s easy. Let’s start in the back. You can see there are four small tanks of gas loaded into the back of the refrigerator to provide electricity for actually running the fridge. The compressor sits over here too, which draws out heat from inside and pushes it out through these two pipes, one pipe going to coolant that cools down cold outside air while it is being heated up by this burner. That hot air rises up and goes through a vent near the top of your fridge so that cold air can be drawn in through this other exit pipe near your doors. The copper tubing you can see running up around the top of your fridge is where that cooled air goes.

It is then blown into the compartment where it cools it off and refrigerates a special gas, propylene, which you will see in a minute. It runs through this maze of pipes that keep everything evenly cooled throughout the fridge and also lets you put shelves wherever you want them. That gas, propylene, is housed here in these two small tanks at the very bottom of your refrigerator. Notice how they are also lined with copper to keep them cold like the rest of your fridge? That’s why it’s called a refrigerated propane tank. A coolant tank would get warm quickly in this hot environment.

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If you’re curious, inside your fridge the gas is very cold and it travels through this maze of pipes until it comes out near the top. That’s where you see that coolant pipe in the upper-right corner of your refrigerator that goes to the outside air. The gas passes through a spot where a tiny pinch valve opens and allows gas to leak out into an area where there is a heat exchanger. It is cooled down by this liquid propylene that runs through tubes in that little tank we just showed you. It is a very simple design that runs perfectly smoothly. While the gas is cold, it goes into this tube and then from there goes through a different pipe to this burner. The liquid propylene inside stays cool while the gas heats up and combines with oxygen and turns into propane, which is a burning gas at about 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can smell that burning gas at the top of your fridge. That’s carbon dioxide as it is separated from the other gases in here so that you don’t have to worry about any getting in your food when cooking or rotting out your refrigerator if you store food beyond its expiry date. This is the fourth tank we were talking about. The gas that is refrigerated goes through another tube into this burner which heats it up so that it becomes a liquid again so it can go back to being cold and a liquid. It then goes back through another tube into the maze of tubing inside your fridge.

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At this point, there are two different ways in which this happens. Most of the time, a fan will suck cool air from outside in where it travels through that maze of tubing, cooling your food and making everything nice and cold for your convenience. There are also other times when you want to just keep some food hot if you like it that way or you’re going to be gone for a while. In that case, a separate tube will allow hot air to go in through the other exit pipe near your door and then up through this manifold to the top of your fridge where there is another vent so cold air can be drawn in.

The gas that is used for heating goes into that burner and heats up to a very high temperature. It goes back down through this tube and then is a liquid again, which passes through another tube into what looks like an ordinary copper water hose. That small hose carries it from here to this manifold where another fan sucks it up. The gas goes from being liquid like in your fridge, into a pipe near those flame blocks where it becomes gas again. It travels up through this tube and goes through a tiny pinch valve where it is released into an isolated part of the manifold where it becomes a gas once again. That gas then travels up to the top of your fridge.

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That hot air comes up there and fills this compartment with air, which then heats that gas back to a liquid state again so it can pass back though this last tube into your fridge. It passes down another tube and back into that burner we were discussing, which becomes hot enough to turn the liquid propane back into a gas once again. It passes from being a liquid about three times before it reaches this very small area near your compressor that has been turned off by the small electrical pump. You can see there are two buttons at the top of your fridge which control when that pump turns on and off. One button will turn the compressor on for a few minutes to cool things down quickly. The other button will turn it off for an hour or so. When you’re finished cooling stuff down, click this button and it will turn off your refrigerator for you. You can also choose to leave it on auto so that it turns itself off whenever you want.

You can see that compressor is off now in this picture. It’s been off for 50 seconds. When it doesn’t need to be on, it will stay off for hours at a time without any problems. Most of the time, however, there is another way to turn your refrigerator on even when your compressor isn’t there. The switch you can see on the right side in that back corner of your fridge is inside this little suitcase-shaped control panel. It is very important that you always read the instructions for your fridge or it won’t work the way you want it to work. This switch turns on the refrigerator automatically. It also turns on other parts of the system that we’re not addressing here. It can turn off the compressor when you leave it on auto or if you click this little button once, which bypasses everything and allows all of your refrigerators to run even when your compressor isn’t there. You don’t need to worry about this going out in a wind storm or something.

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If you know exactly what you want your fridge to do, then these instructions should be enough to tell you how to turn it on and off, whether or not your compressor is there. You can also read for yourself the information about the supplies that are used inside this fridge. Everything inside it works the way it does because of a can of liquid called R-22. When you get a new refrigerator, they charge more money than they should because they sell the cans separately. There is a refrigerant inside that allows all of these functions to work. You have to buy the parts for it to be able to work. It can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 US dollars in parts for this system to work. Each time you replace any part of your fridge’s system, you have to keep track of how much you spent on your R-22. Every time it changes, there will be a charge on your electricity bill. The company who makes the R-22 is making more money than they should because you don’t buy enough cans at a time.

When you buy a new fridge, they will charge you everything they can think of because there is profit to be made. They will also recommend that you get the most expensive model with lots of different features and so on. It doesn’t matter if you have the money to buy it and it doesn’t matter if you need all that stuff. They make their money by selling the R-22. If they sell less refrigerants, they sell less fridges and less supplies to run them. They don’t care about your needs so much as they do about their ability to make money off of your needs in the future when everything else inside your fridge needs replacing again. You should always shop around before you buy anything. You should think about what your needs are and how much it’s going to cost to do them.

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When you first start, it can seem like a lot of money to save on electricity bills and even how comfortable things will be inside your fridge when you go grocery shopping at the store. It’s never been found that cold air or fridges in general make a significant difference in food quality or nutrition for most people who will be getting the benefits of doing this. Everything inside your fridge works in the same way whether you have a compressor or not. The only difference is that when you don’t have a compressor, the system isn’t as big. If you can afford to buy your own compressor, you can get one for as little as $70 US dollars and it will be installed and tested for free in most cases. Some places charge a small amount of money to install it or even pay for it.

If it’s an option, consider buying one yourself rather than dealing with installation charges. You may have to make a trip to the store to get it yourself, but you will save a few dollars. It’s easy enough to do, but it can be a bit of work. You may not be able to go shopping for a while if you want to buy things at the store like you normally would, and there may be times when your electricity bill might increase as well. If this is something that works for you, then it will be worth it in the end. You can always sell your other fridge or find someone who wants it if you’re not used to having two fridges in the house, which isn’t very common anyway.

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