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Super Cool Refrigerator History

It's hard to imagine your home without a refrigerator, but as little as 100 years ago Americans relied on alternative methods of food preservation according to the type of food and the surrounding climate. Read on to learn more about the evolution of this modern-day marvel courtesy of the seasoned professionals at Mr. Appliance®, from the old-fashioned icebox to the technologically advanced smart refrigerators of today.

What is Refrigeration?

During the process of refrigeration, heat is removed from an enclosed area or substance to effectively reduce the temperature. In order to keep the food inside your refrigerator from spoiling, the appliance uses evaporation to absorb the heat from within and transfer and release it to the outside.

How Does a Refrigerator Work?

As your refrigerator cycles, the liquid refrigerant is forced through a series of tubes where it starts to evaporate. During this process, the heat from inside the unit is carried away as the gas travels to the coil on the exterior of the refrigerator where the heat is released. The gas then cycles back to the compressor where it returns to a liquid state, and the process continues.

History of the Refrigerator

Before refrigeration was invented, food was kept cool using snow or ice that was placed in a hole in the ground formed from straw and wood. Next came the icebox, which was an insulated cabinet lined with zinc or tin that included a dedicated space to hold a block of ice, and a drip pan to collect the water as the ice melted. One block of ice would last about a week and replacement blocks were delivered on a regular basis.

In 1748, William Cullen demonstrated the first known example of artificial refrigeration at the University of Glasgow—although the technology was not put to use until 1835 when the first chemical refrigerator was built and introduced to the commercial marketplace. This early model utilized a vapor compression cycle with liquid ammonia, and up until the late 1920s this, and other toxic gases including methyl chloride and sulfur dioxide served as refrigerants.

During this period a number of fatal accidents occurred due to chemical leakage or fire, and a collaborative effort was formed by several major corporations to find a safer alternative. Freon was developed and marketed by DuPont and became the new standard for refrigeration technology in homes across the country until it was found to be harmful to the ozone layer and banned just over 50 years later.

The refrigerator slowly gained popularity in the 1930s and by the end of the decade, they could be found in just over 40 percent of American households. During the 1940s a separate freezer compartment was introduced, and refrigerators became commonplace in most homes.

Modern Day Refrigerators

Today's refrigerators come in a variety of sizes, styles, and configurations, ranging from standard to feature-rich. Some of the latest innovations in convenience and technology include:

  • Digital temperature controls
  • French door, three-door, and four-door models
  • Antimicrobial drawers
  • Touchscreen interfaces
  • Temperature controlled drawers
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Integrated speaker systems
  • Flex spaces that convert from a refrigerator to freezer space as needed
  • Showcase doors allowing you to see inside
  • And more!

For all your refrigerator repair needs contact your local Mr. Appliance, or call us today at (888) 998-2011 to schedule an appointment, or to let us know how we can help! Keep your refrigerator looking its best while increasing the efficiency, with these tips from the helpful cleaning experts at Molly Maid, a fellow Neighborly company.