Air conditioning and refrigeration are often thought of as one and the same thing. Since the two work on the same principle of providing cooling, making this assumption is not off the mark. Nevertheless, the two differ. Their concept might be the same, but the way in which they work are different.
The air conditioner and the refrigerator are involved in keeping an enclosed space cooler than its surrounding area.
What Is Refrigeration?
The process of removing unwanted heat from an object or space is called refrigeration. The extracted heat is transferred to another object or space. In a natural course, thermal energy flows from a place with a higher temperature to a place with a lower temperature. In refrigeration, the natural course is reversed. So heat flows from lower temperature objects to higher. As a result, the temperature of the less hot object becomes cooler.
Nonetheless, going against the natural flow of things involves work. Refrigeration is intended to cool the immediate area using a network of pipes filled with a refrigerant or coolant. It is usually a fluorinated gas. The gas is forced from liquid state to gas, creating a cooler temperature inside the refrigerator or the deep freezer. Now, the compressor raises both the pressure and temperature of the coolant gas so that once again, it comes back into the liquid state. This restarts the cooling cycle.
What Is Air Conditioning?
Air conditioning is used to cool a more extensive area. Herein the ambient air in the enclosed space is also used to lower the temperature. Unlike refrigeration, there is no maze of pipes carrying the coolant involved in delivering the cooling. Instead, there is a network of ducts and fans that is used to push the treated air into every room. The principle involved remains the same of converting the liquid refrigerant to gas for providing cool air.
Difference Between Air Conditioning And Refrigeration
Let us now delve deeper and study the actual points of difference between air conditioning and refrigeration:
1. Nature Of Work
1. Air Conditioning – The air conditioner works by removing heat from the air indoors. In doing so it performs the dual function of cooling and dehumidifying. Though, dehumidification is not its primary function rather a secondary benefit of using an AC. Invariably, together the two functions lower the temperature indoors to make it comfortable and livable during the hot season.
2. Refrigeration – In refrigeration, the heat is transferred outside the appliance, where the temperature is higher. For example, the area inside the fridge is cold, but outside it, you will find the temperature to be higher in the immediate vicinity. Usually, refrigeration is used for cooling or chilling a small and limited space. So, one can deduce that refrigeration is used for chilling and freezing. The difference is that, unlike air conditioning, in refrigeration, the cooling temperature is far lower, almost to the point of making you feel cold and frozen.
2. Design Of Circulation System
1. Air Conditioning – The circulation system consists of an extensive system of ducts and fans. These are designed to blow out the cooled and treated air into the house or building to lower its temperature.
2. Refrigeration – In refrigeration, there is not extensive ductwork involved as the objects to be cooled in the space are limited. Also, its circulation system is designed in such a manner that it keeps the cold air within the unit itself. Therefore, there is no cooling at all outside the unit.
3. Number Of Units Involved
1. Air Conditioning – Typically, an air conditioning system consists of two units, one of which is installed outdoors and the other indoors. The outdoor unit is also known as the condenser unit or the compressor, and the indoor unit is often referred to as the actual air conditioning unit. Though in truth, together, the outdoor and the indoor unit form the complete air conditioning system.
2. Refrigeration – In refrigeration, one single unit encompasses all the different elements, which includes the compressor, condenser, and evaporator.
4. Cooling Process
1. Air Conditioning – An air conditioner uses a combination of coolant and outside air to provide cooling indoors.
2. Refrigeration – In refrigeration, the coolant alone is responsible for cooling. No other element like outside air is involved in the process.
Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Are Different
Now that the difference between air conditioning and refrigeration is clear, it’s time to point out a couple of misconceptions.
Some people believe that one can save food by chilling it under an air conditioner. This is completely off-the-mark thinking. Food needs to be chilled more than normal so that bacteria do not spoil it. That is the reason why foods and drinks are stored at very low temperatures. Needless to say, what you need is a refrigerator and not an air conditioner for keeping the food safe to consume. Restaurants mostly have deep freezers and chill rooms, while homes make do with a fridge for this purpose.
Conversely, there may be people who believe that a big enough refrigeration system can keep a building, commercial or residential, cool in summers. No, it can’t. It is impractical and also were you to manage such a huge refrigeration system somehow still, yet you forget that it is used to maintain extremely low temperatures. Such low temperatures are not healthy to be borne by the human body. You can fall ill or develop other ailments related to extreme cold. Hence, it is not a workable solution. To make the living environment comfortable, you need an air conditioning system.
At Aztil Air Conditioning, we offer commercial refrigeration and air conditioning services. Hence, if you wish to manage the indoor temperature in your office building or set up a chill room in order to cater food and beverages for your staff and customers, our technicians can help. We operate in West Palm Beach, Florida. To book an appointment, call us at +1-888-729-8452. We are open 24/7, so you can call us at your convenience.