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When was the fridge invented?
09 January 2024

When was the fridge invented?

The kitchen fridge, now a staple of the modern home, is as reliable and as necessary as it has ever been, storing our food, keeping it fresh and preventing all kinds of harmful bacteria.

Of course, today’s fridges are much different to those that first came into the world – the Haier range of smart fridges for example have advanced features like Wi-Fi connectivity, humidity drawers and smart functions that improve convenience and food preparation.

But when was the first fridge invented? And who invented it? In this blog, we’re going to step back to look at how the everyday fridge was created and what it meant for households from the 20th century onwards.

What did people use before fridges?

Before we look at how today’s residential fridges came into being, it’s best to look at what people used before they came along.

In ancient times, the ancient Iranians pioneered coolers called yakhchāls, which used a combination of systems to cool the air around food and goods.

From there, people across the world began to recognise the value of ice, and across the 17th century and onwards, aristocratic families began to use iceboxes or icehouses – which saw them compact ice into small caves and stone rooms to better store meat across the hotter months of the year.

This method was driven by people in mountain ranges who realised that milk would keep better outside in the snow and frozen conditions rather than inside the home.

When was the first artificial refrigeration created?

The first man-made method to create ice – as opposed to building a room filled with ice – came in the 18th century with a Scottish inventor called William Cullen. He blew air across diethyl ether, which took in the heat from the surrounding area, producing the perfect conditions for ice formation. 

From there, a number of different scientists developed similar ideas. Oliver Evans, an American, created the first vapour-compression solution and the famous British scientist Michael Faraday used Ammonia to create a refrigeration environment.

An Australian scientist called James Harrison created the first truly usable compression refrigeration system which used alcohol and ammonia – the same system was built for breweries and butchers around his homeland in Victoria.

When was the first fridge invented?

The first real fridge to be built and used was a large-scale one, created by a Hungarian industrialist called István Röck. His was an ammonia-based fridge which used electricity to maintain a constant cycle of cold air. 

The design was used commercially across Hungary, with the first one being constructed in Budapest in 1906. This model went on to be used in the first home refrigerators, which were first brought to the public in 1915, mostly in American households.

Given the propensity of ammonia-based refrigerators to leak however, a particularly concerning fact considering that ammonia can be a particularly dangerous substance, providers began to switch it out for artificially created refrigerants – substances with the express role of keeping areas cool.

The rise of household fridges

Fred W. Wolf is often credited as the inventor who came up with the first domestic electric fridge – called the DOMELRE. As with others, his design would be perfected by others like Nathaniel B. Wales and Alfred Mellowes who ironed out certain problems to make the appliance more acceptable to every household.

It was this time that saw the rise of widely sold models like the Kelvinator and Frigidaire fridges. But the most widespread of the early fridges was designed by General Electric in America – it was widely called the Monitor-Top and it used sulfur-dioxide, a dangerous substance which was overtaken in the 1920s by appliances which used Freon, a much safer artificial alternative gas.

From there, fridges became more and more advanced, with various innovators creating things like temperature adjustment, automatic ice making and separate freezers which increased the widespread use and purchases of household fridges in the US and beyond.

Today’s fridges and freezers

Today we have more advanced fridges than ever before, making use of things like the internet and connectivity to make storing food easier and safer.

Here at Haier, we’ve developed a complete catalogue of expertly engineered fridges that include all of the necessary components to help the modern household.

Some of these features include:

Smart features

Haier fridges include connectivity with the hOn app so that you can remotely adjust the temperature of your fridge which can be especially helpful when you’re away on holiday and want to keep an eye on your food. It can also help prepare your fridge when it knows you’ll be going to do your shop.

Humidity zones

Our fridge has humidity zone drawers, explicitly to keep your fruit and vegetables fresher for longer using a Humidity Control System which keeps moisture levels at 90% within the compartment to prevent food from going bad.

Reversible doors

Doors that can be opened on each side mean that you can install your fridge freezer wherever you want it in your home – no more need to look at which side of your kitchen setup you’ll need to place your appliance.

Looking to buy a new fridge? Head over to the Haier fridge page to find your perfect model.