This page will explain how a GE electronic refrigerator works. In 2002, GE
introduced the electronic refrigerator to create a more efficient refrigerator.
This was largely done with adaptive defrost which we will talk about more. This
changed GE refrigerator repair drastically.
How To Tell If Your Model Is An Electronic Model
All side-by-side models made after 2002 (some were made as early as 2000) are electronic models. While most of GE’s top-mount refrigerators retained the older refrigerator design, some top-mount models are electronic. Although there are exceptions, most bottom-mount models are electronic. However, the only way to know for sure is to pull the refrigerator out and look for the main board. All GE electronic models mentioned on the links below have the main board pictured. It will be located behind a cover on the back of the refrigerator.
The main board controls all operating task listed below.
There are some common motherboard problems with these models and this page outlines these problems. Common Motherboard Problems
A defrost cycle burns a lot of energy; therefore, cutting down on the number
of defrost cycles a refrigerators goes through can greatly increase energy
efficiency of the refrigerator. Earlier models (and non-electronic models) have
defrost timers which force a defrost cycle every 6-15 hours. At times it may be
necessary for a defrost-cycle this frequently but others it is just a waste of
energy to run a defrost cycle this often. The way this works on GE electronic
refrigerator models is the main board monitors how frequently the doors to the
refrigerator are opened, how long the doors to the refrigerator are opened and
how long each defrost cycle takes to complete to adapt defrost cycles to its
However, it doesn’t just go by these inputs. Lets say you go out and buy a
lot of groceries and you leave the door to the refrigerator open for 30 minutes
while loading the groceries. That 30 minutes is normally enough to trigger a
defrost cycle; however, a defrost cycle will not occur until at least 8 hours
has passed since the last defrost cycle. Therefore, there is a minimum of eight
hours between defrost cycles. Now lets say you are out of town and the door
stays closed. After 48 hours of the door being closed a defrost cycle will be
initiated; therefore; the longest time between defrost cycles is 48 hours.
Now lets say you live in Florida where it is nice and humid, you are out of
town (no door openings) and the door gasket is ripped letting all kinds of
moisture into the freezer. With all this moisture there is no way that having a
defrost cycle every 48 hours will be enough. This is true but what happens is
the board will initiate a defrost cycle after 48 hours but then it takes 45
minutes to defrost. The board “says wait a minute that is way too long for a
defrost cycle something must be wrong.” So the next defrost cycle is initiated
in 8 hours to compensate for the ripped door gasket and high humidity. This is
why they call it adaptive-defrost because it adapts to all different scenarios.
The defrost cycle will last until all frost is melted off the coils for a maximum time of 45 minutes. After each defrost-cycle there will be a 5-minute period where nothing is on so that all the moisture can finish dripping off the coils before the next cooling cycle begins. This page will help you with diagnosing a defrost problem on a GE electronic refrigerator model.
Refrigerator Defrost Problem
Pre-chill is a cycle that occurs just before a defrost cycle to drop the temperature in the freezer so that the temperature doesn’t rise so high above normal during defrost. This cycle is a continuous cooling cycle, which can drop the temperature to around –15 degrees and it lasts for two hours. During this time the damper controls the temperature in the fresh food section.
Liner Protection Mode
GE electronic refrigerator models have what is called a liner protection mode that is a mode that initiates after one of the doors has been opened for more than three minutes. In liner protection mode, the evaporator fan will run and the damper will close. This is why it is necessary to check the door switch operation if the fresh food section is not cooling because if the door switch isn’t working then this mode may have the damper closed preventing cold air from entering to cool the fresh food.
During the cooling cycle, the main board monitors the thermistors until the
temperature set point is reached then turns the compressor off. The compressor
will run as long and as often as necessary to maintain temperature. During this
time the fans will slow down and speed up as necessary. This page will help with
Testing GE Refrigerator Thermistors
Fan Motor Control
The fan motors are variable speed motors that are controlled by the
motherboard. These motors operate off of 8-14 VDC. The motherboard monitors the
temperature in the refrigerator and will slow down and speed up the fan motors
as needed. This will save energy because the fan isn’t always running
full-blast, as well as they draw less current than AC motors. This page will
show how to test fan motors on GE electronic refrigerator models.
GE Electronic Refrigerator Fan Motor Diagnostics
Variable Speed Compressor
Some recent electronic refrigerator models take energy efficiency a step further by introducing variable speed compressors, which burn a fraction of the energy as your typical refrigerator compressor. These compressors make almost no sound and put off very little heat. They are sometimes called an inverter compressor because they need an inverter to operate. Both the inverter and the compressor still are controlled by the motherboard. This is roughly how it works. If the temperature in the freezer rises to 7 degrees above the set point then the compressor will run at high speed. When the temperature gets to within 6.5 degrees above the set point it will switch to medium speed. Then when it gets within 4 degrees above the set point it will switch to low speed and remain until satisfied.
Combine a variable speed compressor with dual evaporator and you have the most energy efficient electronic refrigerator that GE has on the market today. This is what they did with the GE profile climate Keeper models. This system uses one compressor and two evaporator coils (cooling coils), as opposed to one compressor and one evaporator coil. The motherboard monitors the temperature in the freezer and the fresh food section and can precisely and accurately control the temperature. This is done by slowing/speeding up the compressor, slowing/speeding the fans and using a three-way valve shutting off/ opening up refrigeration lines to each evaporator separately. What this means is the compressor will continue to run until both sections are at the temperature set point but refrigerant may not be flowing into both evaporators at all times.
These three pages will help you diagnose problems with these types of GE electronic refrigerator models.