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Direct Cool vs Frost Free Refrigerator

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Are you trying to decide between a direct cool and a frost free refrigerator?

Choosing the best refrigerator for your home requires a lot of research. If you want to get the best value for your money, you should be well-equipped with the latest technologies in refrigerators.

Need to know what are the differences between those two technologies? 

Here is the lowdown on how both of them work and how they differ. This article will pull you out of the confusion about which would be a better pick for you.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about direct cool and frost free refrigerators.

What is a Direct Cool Refrigerator?

As the name says, in a direct cool refrigerator the air circulation happens naturally inside the device. This natural convection process creates an uneven distribution of temperature in and around the freezer compartment. These units have a defrost button inside that you need to activate manually to defrost the ice accumulation inside. 

You can commonly see this kind of technology only in single or double door refrigerators.

What is Frost Free Refrigerator?

True to its name, a frost free technology literally keeps your refrigerator free from the frost. Unlike direct cool devices that use a natural process of convection, these appliances use electric fans for the circulation of cool air. These fans aid in evenly distributing the cold air within the fridge and freezer compartments of the unit, further preventing ice formation. This cooling technology is also known as a convention or indirect cooling.

The other perks of frost free refrigerators are – that they come with certain advanced features, including a timer and a thermostat. The thermostat monitors the temperature inside the fridge continuously and automatically cuts off the power supply when the appliances reach the desired temperature. Some models come with a heating system that melts the ice that possibly gets formed inside.

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerator

Direct Cool Vs Frost Free Refrigerator

Let us discuss each characteristic feature in detail:

ParametersDirect CoolFrost Free
Cooling MechanismUses natural process of convection to circulate cool air.Uses electric fans to circulate cold air.
Power ConsumptionIt has low power consumption than the frost free refrigerators.Frost free refrigerators consume more power.
DefrostYou need to manually activate the defrost button to melt the ice.Come with an auto defrost option that not only prevents ice build-up but also melts any possible ice formation.
Technology AvailabilityThe direct cool technology is available only in single and double-door refrigerators.The frost free technology is available in double, triple and side-by-side door refrigerators.
Refrigerator CapacityDirect door refrigerators are available with a capacity ranging from 100 liters to 250 liters.The capacity of frost free refrigerators is from 50 liters to 200 liters. The higher capacity may reach up to 650 liters.
Food FreshnessThis technology keeps the food fresh only for a short period of time.This technology keeps the food items fresher for a long time.
Ideal ForA direct door refrigerator is ideal for a small family of 2-3 members.These refrigerators are ideal for both medium and large families.
Refrigerator CoilsThe refrigerator coils at the back of the unit get exposed and accumulate lots of dust on them.The refrigerator coils at the back are fully covered.
Fridge ExteriorsThe refrigerator exteriors do not become hot.The refrigerator exteriors become hot.
TechnologyThe direct cool technology is becoming obsolete.The frost free technology is a popular and also a new technology.
PriceDirect cool refrigerators are very economical and may cost you around 6,500 -20,000.The frost free refrigerators are very expensive and start at Rs. 20,000, which may range up to Rs. 1,50,000.

1. Effectiveness

If you want your food items to stay fresh for a long time in the refrigerator, then the uniform circulation of cool air is a must. In direct cool refrigerators, the uneven supply of cool air, ice formation, and the fragments of manual frosting reduce the chances of food remaining fresh. 

In frost free refrigerators, the technology allows your food to stay fresh for a longer period.

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

2. Capacity


If we talk about the capacity, direct cool refrigerators have a minimum capacity of 100 litres and a maximum of 250 litres. 

For frost free refrigerators, the minimum is around 200 litres, and the maximum may extend up to 650 litres. 

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

3. Ideal For

If you are a small family of two to three members or someone living alone, then a direct door technology refrigerator with a single door is best suitable for them.

Are you a large family or a family with high storage needs? Then a frost free refrigerator with a double door is the ideal option.

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

4. Energy Consumption

When compared to a frost free refrigerator, a direct cool device consumes less electricity. This is because it does not use any external fans, unlike the frost free models, for air circulation. Hence, it requires less power. 

On the other hand, since frost free refrigerators come with external fans for air circulation and a heating system, they require more power. Moreover, these prevent the ice formation and melt any possibly formed ice. Hence, these units consume more electricity.

Winner: Direct Cool Refrigerators

5. Number of Doors

Number of DoorsDirect cool technology refrigerators are mostly available in single-door models. However, few double door units also come with this technology.

The frost free technology is available in refrigerator models with double door, triple door, and side-by-side door models. Moreover, you can segregate your preference by choosing one from the wide range of designs and specifications.

Triple door frost free fridges are not as energy efficient as their counterparts.

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

6. Cleaning Issues

Cleaning Issues

Having a direct cool refrigerator calls for a lot of cleaning coupled with great efforts. You need to manually activate the defrost button inside the unit to defrost the ice accumulation. Not only that, but you should also clean the residues left behind by the manual defrost process. If you think that is the end of the cleaning chores, then you are wrong. These fridges have coils at the back of the unit that gets exposed and accumulates lots of dust on them. Again, cleaning the dust, dirt, and grime regularly becomes your responsibility. Any negligence towards this will lead to a malfunction of the coils, further affecting the appliance performance.

When we talk about frost free refrigerators, there is no hassle of cleaning as such. The auto defrost option in the unit does all the job for you. The rear sides of these models remain covered. 

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

7. Design

DesignDirect cool refrigerators come with limited storage space for food. 

Whereas, the frost free refrigerators have separate chambers in both freezer and fridge compartments for storing the food items. These include a large chamber for vegetables and side door panels to maximize the storage capacity. Advanced models from this technology allow you to adjust the temperature in specific chambers, as per the requirement. 

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

8. Settings


Direct cool refrigerators do not come with the extra settings and features that you mostly find in frost free models.

In frost free refrigerators, you have a myriad of setting options that you can adjust accordingly based on your requirements. Besides that, these models come equipped with smart features like a temperature sensor, timer, temperature control, convertible modes, etc., for individual compartments.

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

9. Heating Issues

Since direct cool refrigerators use only natural convection processes and not external fans, they do no encounter any heating issues. 

We all know that frost free refrigerators have external fans for uniform circulation of cold air and a heating system to defrost the ice. Hence, there are possible chances for these parts to encounter heating issues. Although the heating does not have any negative impact, it is essential to inspect the freezer compartment regularly (annually).

Also, it is advisable to keep your unit at a certain distance from the wall to ensure the back of the fridge has enough room for heat disposal.

Winner: Direct Cool Refrigerators

10. Parts Availability and Durability

Although direct cool refrigerators have a low upfront cost and help you save on your utility bills, you might have to shell a few bucks from your wallet in the future. Since this technology is becoming obsolete and less familiar, the parts can become rare. This might become heavy on your pockets as you will have to pay extra to get those parts. 

On the other hand, frost free refrigerators are booming and increasing in popularity in the Indian market. That means there will be no scarcity of refrigerator parts. Although these units are a little expensive, we recommend you to buy a frost free model for its advanced technology and low maintenance costs. 

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

11. The Rear Side Of The Refrigerator

Rear Side Of The RefrigeratorThe coils on the rear side of the direct cool refrigerators get exposed and accumulate lots of dust on them. 

Unlike them, a frost free refrigerator has the rear sides covered. The newer models come with a modified outer mechanism; they have a plain back now.

Winner: Frost Free Refrigerators

12. Price

Direct cool refrigerators are economical and comparatively less cheap than frost free refrigerators. The single-door direct cool technology units cost you around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 18,000.

Whereas the double door refrigerators with frost free technology will cost you between Rs. 20,000/ and Rs 30,000/.

Winner: Direct Cool Refrigerators

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.


Both direct cool and frost free refrigerators have their benefits and drawbacks. In terms of quality, storage, capacity, and reliability, frost free models are the ones that you should look up to. As a result, they tend to be more expensive than refrigerators with direct cool technology.  

While the direct cool models are ideal for small families, they are also cheaper and consume less power than their counterparts. However, they need regular maintenance that can be tedious and annoying, too.

If you are wondering what to choose, I hope this article gave you a clear idea of both the models and how they differ. What are you waiting for! Invest in the one that suits your requirements and worth your money.

Write to us in the comments section below if this article made your decision-making easier. Please let us know if you have any questions or need more information. Do not forget to share your inputs with us. 

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