How does a fridge work?

Our fridges work hard to ensure our food is kept fresh for longer. Yet, despite the vital importance of fridges in our day-to-day life, most people are unaware of how their fridge works. In this useful guide, we will explain how a refrigerator works, explaining the appliances’ key components and the processes it uses to keep our food cold.

How does a fridge work?

Refrigerators work by process of evaporation. By compressing and depressurising refrigerant, fridges create cool air which is then circulated to keep food fresh.

Fridges help preserve food by removing the heat from the inside of the appliance. In a similar manner to a freezer, a fridge uses the process of evaporation to keep food fresh.

All fridges feature a compressor, which is a pump that compresses refrigerant in gas form. The refrigerant gas is released and condensed into a hot liquid. Once the refrigerant has passed through the condenser coils, it travels to the evaporator coils cooling compartment, where it expands into a gas, making the coils cold in the process. Finally, the gas flows back to the compressor where it is converted into a liquid as the cycle continues.

If you’re looking to keep your fruit and vegetables fresher for longer, consider our HarvestFresh™ fridge freezer models. Using innovative three-colour light technology, HarvestFresh™ cleverly mimics the sun’s natural 24-hour light cycle, preserving the vitamins and nutrients in your fruit and vegetables for up to five additional days, compared to a standard crisper drawer.

What are a refrigerator’s main components?


The answer to ‘how does a fridge thermostat work’ is relatively straight forward. Every fridge will feature a thermostat that controls the temperature of the refrigerator.

  • The Thermostat has a thin tube called a Phial that contains an inert gas. The Phial is connected inside the refrigerator cabinets and monitors the internal surface or air temperature.
  • The gas in the Phial will expand or contract with temperature change. This movement operated a bellows inside the Thermostat that is connected to a switch mechanism.
  • This powers the Compressor until the desired internal temperature is achieved.


To understand how a fridge works, it is important to first answer the question ‘how does a fridge compressor work?’ The compressor is the heart of a refrigerator, it compresses and pumps the refrigerant around the system, increasing pressure to give off heat externally in the condenser and reducing pressure to absorb heat inside the cabinet in the evaporator.

  • Inside the Compressor is an electric motor that drives a single chamber compressor. There is also oil inside the Compressor to cool and lubricate the mechanics as it operates.
  • The electric motor is mounted on springs, this can sometimes produce a rattle when the motor starts or stops.
  • The Compressor body will run very hot under normal operation.

Evaporator fan motor

  • Not all refrigerators have evaporator fan motors. The Evaporator fan motor will be located near the top of the evaporator.
  • The purpose of the Evaporator fan motor is to distribute the cold air that has been generated.
  • The fan blade will be shaped so that it draws air through the Evaporator and circulates it around the cabinet.
  • The Evaporator fan will operate with the Compressor, there can be a door switch that will stop the fan. This prevents cold air being forced out when the door is opened.

Condenser fan motor

  • Not all refrigerators have condenser fan motors. Usually larger appliances have them fitted.
  • The purpose of the Condenser fan motor is to aid the dissipation of heat generated from the refrigeration process.
  • The Condenser fan motor will operate with the Compressor.

How does a frost-free fridge freezer work?

An appliance referred to as ‘Frost Free’ means that the freezer will automatically defrost any ice build-up on a daily basis. A typical frost-free cycle is 20 minutes of defrost for every 8 hours accumulated refrigeration. The process of this cycle is as follows:

  • During the compressor on cycle a thin layer of ice will form on the evaporator.
  • This ice will be defrosted periodically during the defrost cycle.
  • Following this, the defrosted water will run from the evaporator into a drain channel.
  • The defrosted water will accumulate in a reservoir that is located on or near the compressor.
  • Heat from the compressor will then evaporate the water in the reservoir.
  • A typical frost-free cycle is approximately 20 minutes of defrosting for every 8 hours accumulated refrigeration.

How does a self-defrosting fridge work?

  • During the compressor on cycle the rear wall will form a thin layer of ice.
  • When the compressor is off, this ice will defrost and the water will run from the evaporator into a drain channel.
  • The defrosted water will accumulate in a reservoir that is located on or near the compressor.
  • Heat from the compressor will then evaporate the water in the reservoir.

A number of Beko fridge freezers feature our Frost-Free technology, which automatically defrost themselves. If you’re looking for a new fridge freezer, consider our range of Frost-Free fridge freezers.

How does water dispenser in fridge work?

Our range of fridges feature both plumbed and non-plumbed water dispensers. How your water dispenser works will depend on which model you own. Generally, when a user presses the plastic lever located on the refrigerator’s door, a valve is then opened in the appliance which then releases chilled water.

Our non-plumbed water dispensers sit neatly on the fridge door, leaving more room for you to store your groceries. The easy-to-fill tank holds up to 2-litres of water, providing chilled drinks whenever you need. To maintain your appliance, it is important to clean your water dispenser regularly. To keep your water dispenser hygienic and fresh, we’ve put together a handy how-to clean the water dispenser in your fridge freezer guide.

Now that you have all the information, you need about how a fridge works, why not browse our full range of fridges.

Or, if you’re looking for an appliance that features both a fridge and a freezer, explore our range of fridge freezers.

Need Product Support?

If you have any questions about your Beko fridge, we are here to help. For more information, including detailed video guides, explore our dedicated refrigeration how-to guide. We do not recommend that you try to repair the appliance yourself. If you are experiencing issues with your fridge please contact Beko’s Customer Service at 0333 207 9710 for assistance. Our expert support team will be more than happy to assist and organise technical assistance for you.

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