Direct Cool vs Frost Free Refrigerator

Refrigerators are an integral part of every Indian household. Before you buy a refrigerator, you need to know about the different types of refrigerators available. Not just that, you have to know the exact difference between them so that you can choose the best one for your home. There are basically two types of refrigerators popular in the market, and they are namely the traditional direct cool refrigerator and the modern frost free refrigerator. The following is the list of the fundamental differences between these two popular refrigerators for better selection based on information.

The Working Of Refrigerators –

Direct Cool – In this type of refrigerator, the air in circulation is cooled inside the fridge compartments by means of the natural convection process. As the process is natural, there is uneven temperature distribution due to which there is the formation of ice from the water vapor inside the refrigerator. There is no way to control the temperature distribution. The ice or frost can be noticed in and around the freezer box. This is exactly why it needs manual defrosting for which is a knob or button is provided. Due to this uneven temperature distribution, the direct cool refrigerator is limited to single door refrigerate model only.

Direct Cool

Frost Free – In this type of refrigerator, the basic operation is the same but inside of natural convection process, the air is circulated evenly with electric fans. Due to even distribution of cool air, there is no scope for the formation of ice or frost, and thereby, it lives up to its name. It has a timer and a thermostat which cuts off the power supply when the desired temperature is reached within the calculated period of time. Besides, in some model, there is a heating system working continuously to melt the ice formation automatically.

Frost Free

The Distinctive Differences –

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerator

Power Consumption – A direct cool refrigerator consumes less electricity which is due to the absence of any external fan. The frost free versions have external fans as well as a heating system that works continuous, adding to more power consumption.

Keeping Food Fresh – A direct cool refrigerator is good at keeping food fresh only for a shorter period of time in comparison to a frost free refrigerator. The mechanism of a frost free freezer is designed to keep the freshness of the food items intact for a longer duration of time.

Number of Doors – Due to uneven temperature distribution, the direct cool freezer can be of single door only. On the contrary, most of the frost free freezers have double doors, and they can also be of triple doors as well as side by side door.

Family Suitability – A direct cool freezer is suitable only for a small family of 3 members as the storage capacity varies from 50 to 250 liters. On the other hand, the frost free freezers are large in size and hence, suitable for small to large family. The storage capacity varies from 50 to as much as 650 liters.

Maintenance – A direct cool freezer needs regular cleaning depending on your usage. Due to frost formation and manual defrosting, the interior will be filled with droplets. You have to clean them as the interior color can fade otherwise, and the food contamination rate can also increase for the same. In a frost free refrigerator, due to no frost formation, there is no maintenance as such.

Heating Issue – There is no heating issue of the external parts with direct cool freezers as the convection process is natural. But in a frost free freezer, there is a heating system to prevent the formation of ice, and there are external fans with motors which get heated up. The heating issue is not a major issue, and too much heating can be damaging for the other parts, and the performance can degrade. Therefore, annual servicing is a must for the frost free freezer.

Cost – The cost of direct cool refrigerators as less in comparison to frost free ones. Even in the long run, you will save more in your power bill with a direct cool freezer. However, they are fast becoming obsolete as the popularity of frost free ones is rising tremendously among Indian residents.

Summary Of Differences –

Direct Cool Refrigerator –Frost Free Refrigerator –
Cooling by natural convectional process.Cooling by external fans.
Manual defrosting required.Automatic defrosting option available.
Regular cleaning is necessary.No cleaning is required.
No heating issue at the back.The back gets heated up with continuous use.
The coil is exposed at the back leading to dust accumulation.The rear side is fully covered.
Available only in single door model.Available in double, triple, side by side door model.
Maximum capacity up to 250 liters.Maximum capacity up to 650 liters.
Suitable for small family.Suitable for medium to large family.
Good at keeping food fresh for short time.Best at keeping food fresh for longer time.
Less electricity consumption.Greater electricity consumption.
Inexpensive in comparison.Costly due to more parts like external fans.
Price range – 6,500 to 20,000 INR.Price range – 20,000 to 1,50,000 INR.
Likely to get obsolete in the near future.Popularity is rising consistently.

Reasons To Buy Frost Free Refrigerator Over Direct Cool Refrigerator–

Reason to Buy Frost Free Refrigerator

Freshness – Due to even temperature distribution, the freshness of the food items stay intact for days in a frost free refrigerator. The same cannot be said in case of a direct cool refrigerator. That is because of uneven temperature distribution, frosting, the residues from manual defrosting and likewise. The uniformity of cool air supply is the key to keep the food items fresh for long.

Cleaning Issue – When you have a direct cool refrigerator, you should be prepared for some extra effort. First of all, you have to press the defrosting button every time you notice frosting around the freezer box. This manual defrosting leaves behind water droplets which need to be cleaned. Not just that, the rear side of the direct cool refrigerator is exposed, and there is going to be regular dust accumulation on the coils. Without regular cleaning, the coils can become inefficient. Such headache does not exist when you buy a frost free refrigerator as there is no frost formation to be worried about and the rear side is completely covered.

Better Design – The direct cool refrigerator comes in a single door model only. The single door model is no more in fashion these days. People want freezers with separate compartments like a modular kitchen. A frost free refrigerator provides exactly the same as they can have double and triple doors as well as side by side doors. You can store different types of food items in each of them as per the temperature requirements for food preservation. That is why the design looks cool and trendy, and the separate compartment makes it highly convenient for users.

Settings – The frost free refrigerators come with various settings that direct cool refrigerators still do not possess. There is a thermostat in the frost free refrigerator, and some of the models let the users regulate the temperature. Not just that, there are various modes of operations for better perseveration as well as energy saving. You can also set a timer for on and off operations.

Durability – The direct cool refrigerators are fast becoming obsolete in the market. Therefore, in the near future, if your refrigerator requires changing of internal parts, the parts may not be readily available. Therefore, it is not reasonable enough to buy a direct cool refrigerator just because you have a small family. Besides, the direct cool refrigerators are more becoming useful for stores than residential use. If your budget is not too low, you should opt for frost free refrigerator as they are likely to acquire the maximum market share from the direct cool refrigerators in the near future.

Frequently Asked Questions?

1. Is a frost free freezer better?

Definitely, a frost free freezer is better than other types of freezers. There is no headache of manual defrosting as it is automatic. Besides, there is no need for the regular dusting of the rear side as it is fully covered. Moreover, it can have multiple doors for storing food items separately as per your convenience.

2. Why does my frost free fridge ice up?

If your frost-free fridge is icing up, there is something wrong with the gasket. If the gasket leaks, the frosting will be a common occurrence in the evaporator. If the gasket is damaged, it is going to let warm and moist air go inside the freezer, and when that air comes in contact with the cold surfaces inside, the frosting will be the outcome.

3. Do frost free fridge freezers need defrosting?

Ideally speaking, a frost-free refrigerator does not need manual defrosting. This is because it has the mechanism for automatic defrosting without the user’s intervention. However, in some cases, there could be frost formation around the vent that lets air into the freezer compartments. In those cases, you may have to go for manual defrosting. But such cases are very rare and generally happen if the frost free freezer model is quite old.

4. Why does my frost free freezer have ice in the bottom?

When your frost free freezer has ice in the bottom, it is probably due to a blocked defrost drain. The drain hose can get blocked due to the accumulation of food particles and other debris. Due to this blockage, ice will start building up at the bottom, and you will notice water leaking out of the freezer.

5. How long do frost free fridge freezers last?

Ideally speaking, frost free freezers should last for 10 to 15 years. However, it totally depends on the usage such as how many hours a day you are using on average, whether you are availing annual maintenance service and likewise. Regular maintenance such as dusting condenser coil, cleaning drain hose can extend the lifespan significantly.

6. Are frost-free freezers noisy?

A frost free freezer does make a continuous sound, but it cannot be heard from a distance. Therefore, it is safe to say that a frost free freezer is not noisy. The humming sound which you may near when you get close to the freeze is that of the external fan and the compressor.

7. Is a noisy fridge freezer dangerous?

Yes, if your refrigerator is making an unusual noise, it can be dangerous and hence, you should turn it off immediately. You should inform the service center and let the service person do whatever is required. It is dangerous because there is a large amount of flammable and plastic material present. A noisy refrigerator means there is something wrong in the parts, which could lead to short-circuiting and fire. The fire can spread quickly, releasing toxic gases. Therefore, turn it off and schedule a visit for repairing.

8. How can I defrost my fridge quickly?

To defrost your freezer quickly, you need to have a large pot of hot water and put it inside the freezer over a hot pad. Make sure that there is nothing else around the pot and place a towel at the bottom of the freezer to soak up the water as the ice melts.

9. How long does it take for a refrigerator to defrost?

Generally, a refrigerator takes somewhere in between 10 to 30 minutes for completing a defrost cycle. It depends on the timer setting from the company.

10. How often should you defrost your fridge?

If you have bought a manual defrost freezer, you should defrost it as soon as you notice a quarter-inch ice buildup on the inner walls. There is no hard and fast rule, and it depends on your usage. If you are using it regularly, you have to defrost more often than the ones who are using it occasionally.

11. How long after defrosting freezer can I put food back in?

Depending on the temperature of the food, you have to take the decision when you need to put the food back after defrosting. If the temperature is moderate when you took it out, you should put it back after 30 minutes when defrosting is done. This is because, within 30 minutes, the temperature of the food will be achieved inside the freezer.
However, if the food is in a frozen state, you have to wait longer like an hour or more for the temperature of the freezer to be on the same page as the temperature of the food. Otherwise, the frozen food will start melting and get contaminated.

12. How do you defrost a freezer quickly without turning it off?

To defrost a freezer without turning it off, you need to open the freezer, cover the floor with a thick towel, and then turn on a handheld hair dryer and aim it at the ice on the freezer. Once the defrosting is done, take a moistened clean cloth and wipe the freezer walls. Remove the towel from the floor and mop any water there. Close the freezer door and wait for 15 minutes before transferring the food.

13. How often does a refrigerator go into defrost?

The defrost cycle is generally repeated after every 6 hours in a frost free refrigerator. However, it can vary from one refrigerator model to another. In some models, it may happen once every day.

14. What happens if you don’t defrost your freezer?

If you do not defrost your freezer, the food will not get as cold as usual. This means the efficiency of the freezer as far as optimal cooling goes; it will go down gradually to a state where the interior will not stay cold anymore. This will put pressure on the other parts, and they can get damaged in the process.

15. What do you do with food when defrosting a freezer?

First, take out the food items from the refrigerator and store it inside a vacuum storage bag. Wrap the food item in a newspaper. Take a sizable container and put blocks of ice in it. Place the food inside and then again place blocks on ice on it. This will keep your food item fresh for half an hour or so.
If you want to store for a longer duration, you need to have a food storage cooler, or you have to take your neighbor’s help to store the food items in their refrigerator.

16. How to drain water after defrosting refrigerator?

First, unplug the refrigerator and sponge out any water at the bottom of the refrigerator. Then locate the drain line from the manual and gently pull it off.
Then, add some pinches of baking soda in two cups of hot water. Mix it well and take a turkey baster and suck it in. Then place the baster in the open end of the drain hose.
Squeeze it in and force the mixture through the hose. This mixture will clear the clog in the hose and let it all out. Reattach the hose and you are done.


In summary, it is very clear that frost free refrigerator is a clear winner from a buyer’s perspective. The direct cool refrigerator is for those having a low budget, preferably below 15,000 INR strictly. If you buy a direct cool refrigerator, you should be ready for pressing the manual defrosting button quite often as well as regular cleaning. There is no guarantee whether the parts of the refrigerator will be available in case they get damaged over the years.

However, if you can increase your budget to 20,000 INR or above, the frost free refrigerator is an automatic choice. When you pay a high price, you get convenience. The designs are trendy, the different compartments are convenient, there is no headache of manual defrosting and cleaning, the parts will be readily available even in the long run, and the freshness of the food items will stay intact for longer. In short, frost free refrigerator is a far better choice.