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#1
Old 08-26-2011, 07:59 AM
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Another fridge question: frost free vs auto-defrost

I am trying to decide which of two otherwise similarly sized and priced fridge-freezers to buy. I already have another thread about the noise difference between them, which is a concern for me, but I have just realized another issue (that may be related).

One of the models is listed as having auto-defrost, and the other is listed as being frost free, and the website makes it quite explicit that the first is not frost free, and that the second does not have auto-defrost, so it appears that these really are different things. I have googled around to try to understand this, but I am still very confused. The information given is contradictory, and a lot is from notoriously unreliable sources such as Yahoo Answers. Some sites, including Wikipedia, seem to treat them as the same thing. Others imply that one term applies only to the freezer compartment, and the other only to the fridge part. (Is frost in the fridge part really much of a problem, though? Even if you get a bit there, I should imagine that it would be much quicker and easier to defrost than a frosted up freezer.)

One site also seemed to be saying that frost-free (but perhaps not auto-defrost) fridges have a an internal fan that can be noisy. This may be relevant to the noise issue, because it is the one that is supposedly frost free that as the louder rating. (It is also the slightly cheaper model.) An extra fan will presumably change the quality of the sound too, and people in the other thread are telling me that could be a significant issue, more important than mere sound intensity. (But perhaps if auto defrost and frost free are really the same thing, they both have the fan.)

Does anyone have a clear understanding of this terminology?
#2
Old 08-26-2011, 08:53 AM
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auto-defrost means there is a button to pull that turns on heater coils in the walls of the freezer. You remove the frozen food first of course and pull the switch knob. An hour later all the ice is melted from inside the freezer. You have to drain the water manually. My mom's chest freezer was like that. It only needed defrosting about once ever year or two.

frost-free turns on a defrost cycle daily. small heater coils gently heat enough to remove any frost and the fan helps dry the walls. Doesn't defrost the food or ruin it. The water drains into a pan and evaporates.

Auto defrost is better for freezers with long term storage. Meats that may be in there for years. The freezer stays at the coldest possible temp all the time.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-26-2011 at 08:58 AM.
#3
Old 08-26-2011, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
auto-defrost means there is a button to pull that turns on heater coils in the walls of the freezer. You remove the frozen food first of course and pull the switch knob. An hour later all the ice is melted from inside the freezer. You have to drain the water manually. My mom's chest freezer was like that. It only needed defrosting about once ever year or two.

frost-free turns on a defrost cycle daily. small heater coils gently heat enough to remove any frost and the fan helps dry the walls. Doesn't defrost the food or ruin it. The water drains into a pan and evaporates.

Auto defrost is better for freezers with long term storage. Meats that may be in there for years. The freezer stays at the coldest possible temp all the time.
Really? Although some did mention heaters, none of the other sites I looked at even hinted that auto-defrost involves manually turning a switch. (Also, that does not seem very "auto.")

Last edited by njtt; 08-26-2011 at 09:04 AM.
#4
Old 08-26-2011, 09:04 AM
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I prefer frost free for a freezer that gets opened a lot. Kids getting ice cream, Popsicles, ice etc. Every time it opens that hot air creates condensation/frost in the freezer.

auto-defrost is for chest freezers that rarely gets open. Lots of frozen beef, venison, and pork that you may keep for years.

Well, that's how my moms chest freezer worked. I was the lucky one that emptied it and pulled the defrost switch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Really? Although some did mention heaters, none of the other sites I looked at even hinted that auto-defrost involves manually turning a switch. (Also, that does not seem very "auto.")

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-26-2011 at 09:07 AM.
#5
Old 08-26-2011, 09:26 AM
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Manual defrost - is still around too. You unload the food and unplug it. Several Hours later it finally melts the ice. I've used a hair dryer to speed the process. I hate, hate, hate those types of freezers.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-26-2011 at 09:28 AM.
#6
Old 08-26-2011, 09:29 AM
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I imagine that the 'auto' in the auto-defrost is as opposed to manual. Growing up, every couple of years we'd unload the chest freezer, and then hack out the accumulated ice/frost with various improvised scrapers, with mom constantly warning us against puncturing the freezer wall.
#7
Old 08-26-2011, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Does anyone have a clear understanding of this terminology?
Unless the terms are defined by some authoritative source or trademarked, I don't see how one definition would help you, because you can't guarantee that this producer will follow this definition. So my best guess would be to ask the manufacturer what precisely he means. If the information they give you is contradictory, say so and keep asking until you are satisfied.

It wouldn't be the first time that different companies use the same terms to mean different things according to what they personally like or their marketing dept. thinks sounds good.

Personally, I would skip both options and simply manually de-freeze the fridge regularly. At least in Germany, tests from Warentest (Consumer advocates) show that all these auto-extras use more energy and are not reliable enough to stop controlling, so you might as well do it manually from the start.
#8
Old 08-26-2011, 09:40 AM
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I've had more trouble with meat getting freezer burned in a frost free freezer. I think it's because the temps rise slightly during the defrost cycle.
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