How does a gas refrigerator work?

How does a gas refrigerator work?


Gas refrigerators, also known as absorption refrigerators, are a popular choice for off-grid living, camping, and recreational vehicles. These appliances offer a convenient way to keep food and beverages cool without the need for electricity. But how exactly do gas refrigerators work? In this article, we will explore the inner workings of a gas refrigerator and understand the principles behind its cooling mechanism.

The Basics of Gas Refrigeration

Gas refrigerators operate on the principle of absorption refrigeration, which involves the absorption and evaporation of a refrigerant to create a cooling effect. Unlike conventional electric refrigerators that use compressors, gas refrigerators utilize heat and a mixture of chemicals to achieve cooling.

Components of a Gas Refrigerator: A typical gas refrigerator consists of several key components, including the burner assembly, evaporator, condenser, absorber, and generator. These components work together to facilitate the cooling process.

Materials Used: Gas refrigerators are typically made of durable materials such as steel or aluminum. The inner lining is often coated with a protective layer to prevent corrosion and ensure longevity.

The Cooling Process

The cooling process in a gas refrigerator can be broken down into several steps:

1. Heat Source: The first step involves providing a heat source to the burner assembly. This can be achieved using propane or natural gas. The heat generated by the burner assembly is crucial for the entire cooling process.

2. Absorption: The burner assembly heats a mixture of water and ammonia in the generator. As the mixture heats up, the ammonia vaporizes and rises to the condenser.

3. Condensation: In the condenser, the hot ammonia vapor is cooled down, causing it to condense into a liquid state. This liquid ammonia then flows into the absorber.

4. Absorption and Evaporation: In the absorber, the liquid ammonia is absorbed by a solution of water and ammonia. This absorption process releases heat, which is then dissipated. The now-ammonia-rich solution flows back to the generator, ready to repeat the cycle.

5. Evaporation: The ammonia solution is then sent to the evaporator, where it is exposed to a low-pressure environment. This causes the ammonia to evaporate rapidly, absorbing heat from the surroundings in the process.

6. Cooling Effect: As the ammonia evaporates, it draws heat from the refrigerator’s interior, effectively cooling the contents. The evaporated ammonia then returns to the absorber to begin the cycle again.

Advantages of Gas Refrigerators

Gas refrigerators offer several advantages over their electric counterparts:

Portability: Gas refrigerators are commonly used in off-grid situations, such as camping or in recreational vehicles, where access to electricity may be limited. Their ability to operate on propane or natural gas makes them highly portable and versatile.

Energy Efficiency: Gas refrigerators do not require electricity to function, making them energy-efficient. This can be particularly beneficial in areas with unreliable or expensive power supply.

Silent Operation: Unlike electric refrigerators that generate noise from compressors and fans, gas refrigerators operate silently. This can be advantageous in environments where noise pollution is a concern.


Gas refrigerators, or absorption refrigerators, provide a reliable cooling solution for off-grid living and recreational activities. By utilizing heat and a mixture of chemicals, these appliances can efficiently cool food and beverages without the need for electricity. Understanding the inner workings of gas refrigerators allows us to appreciate their benefits and make informed decisions when considering alternative cooling options.