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Refrigerator Showdown: Auto vs. Manual Defrost

Fridge temperature is hard to regulate, so defrosting your refrigerator and freezer is inevitable. Appliances come with either automatic defrost or manual defrost options, and there are advantages and limitations to each. Both are used to accommodate for temperatures that fluctuate out of the preferred range. Too much frost can interfere with how well the refrigerator operates and can cause freezer burn on foods. The main difference between the two options lies solely in convenience, but there are other factors to consider when choosing between automatic and manual defrost.

Auto Defrost

Manual Defrost

Energy Efficiency

Heating coils use more energyWarm, room-temperature air is used to defrost, so it's more energy efficient


Defrosting occurs automaticallyDefrosting can take hours

Temperature Control

Self-regulation allows for better temperature controlMore difficult to control interior temperatures


More expensiveLess expensive

Auto Defrost

Advantages of Auto Defrost

  • Convenience - Automatic defrost is always working, so you don't need to put in additional work to manage the temperatures.
  • Less Frost - Appliances with auto defrost will naturally have less frost build-up, so food packaging is easier to see and you can keep food fresher longer.

Limitations of Auto Defrost

  • More Energy Consumption - Constantly heating the coils inside the refrigerator and freezer to control and maintain temperatures uses a lot of energy.
  • Unnecessary Defrost - Auto defrost can cause items in the freezer to partially defrost and then freeze again.

Manual Defrost

Advantages of Manual Defrost

  • Eco-Friendly - To manually defrost, you only rely on the circulation of air within your home to break down frost, so this option is extremely energy efficient.
  • Low Cost - Manual defrost a less popular option, so appliances that feature manual defrost are less expensive.

Limitations of Manual Defrost

  • Convenience - Manually defrosting requires you to remove all of the food from your refrigerator and freezer and can be extremely time-consuming.
  • Messy - The process of defrosting can cause large puddles and a big mess if you don't prepare the area with towels and monitor the entire process.