How Does an Air Conditioner Actually Work?
We’ve all been there. You spend all day in the hot sun, getting sweaty and uncomfortable. And just when you think there is no relief in sight, you walk into your home and feel a wave of cool air hit you. It’s refreshing, it’s calming – and it’s all thanks to your air conditioner.
But as important as air conditioners are, most people just expect them to “work” without really knowing how.
Well, that all changes today!
Air Conditioner Background History
Air conditioners have come a long way since the 1900s. In 1902, a young engineer named Willis Carrier designed the first modern air conditioner. The goal was to regulate temperature and humidity levels in factories. Back then, air conditioners were massive contraptions that required large amounts of energy to run and were only useful in industrial settings. However, as technology advanced, smaller, more efficient air conditioners appeared in residential homes.
Types of Air Conditioner Units
Today, people have a variety of air conditioning options to choose from. Below are six categories of air conditioners that are commonly used:
Central Air Conditioners
Central air conditioners are a go-to form of cooling for modern houses. These powerful machines can easily keep the whole house comfortable with one central unit located in an attic or basement, then connected to all other rooms via ducts and vents.
Cassette Air Conditioners
Cassette air conditioners are a type of ductless system that can be installed in any room. Unlike central systems, they don’t require installing new ducts or altering existing construction. You only need to mount the unit on the ceiling and ensure it has access to an outdoor exhaust vent.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Like cassette air conditioners, ductless mini-split systems are a type of ductless system that can be installed in any room. The difference is that they use two separate units – an indoor unit that provides the cooling and an outdoor unit with the compressor. This lets you control each room’s temperature separately, making them perfect for multi-room homes.
Commercial Air Conditioners
Commercial air conditioners are designed to cool large commercial spaces like offices and warehouses. They come in various sizes and are more powerful than residential systems, although they mimic the same basic principles of operation as central and ductless systems.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are the budget-friendly option for cooling smaller spaces. Perfect for apartments, single rooms, and offices, these units provide reliable temperature control in an economical package. Though they’re not as powerful or quiet as other systems on the market, window ACs can be just what you need to keep your space comfortable during those hot summer days.
Split Air Conditioners
Unlike central air conditioners, split systems don’t require ducts to operate properly. Instead, they use convenient flexible tubes to transfer cooled air from the inside unit to the outside one – making it an ideal cooling solution that won’t break your wallet.
Air Conditioner Parts
While different types of air conditioners have their own unique components, the essential parts of the operation are typically the same:
An evaporator coil is an integral part of the cooling process as it helps to absorb heat from the air and then transfer it outside. This functions by allowing the hot air to pass over a coil containing a refrigerant that absorbs the heat and then blows out cold air.
The compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system, as it helps to pressurize and circulate refrigerant throughout the unit. It also plays a vital role in controlling how much cool air is released into a room.
The condenser coil releases the heat collected by the evaporator coil back into the atmosphere. It also helps to pressurize and circulate refrigerant to go through another cooling cycle.
The expansion valve plays an essential role in the air conditioning process, as it helps regulate refrigerant flow into the evaporator coil. This allows for better temperature control and prevents too much pressure from building inside the unit.
Air Conditioning Cooling Cycle Steps
Air conditioners work by repeating steps until the desired temperature is reached. The basic steps in this process are as follows:
- The compressor compresses and circulates refrigerant throughout the system.
- The refrigerant enters the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air.
- The hot refrigerant is released into the condenser coil, which is cooled and sent back to the compressor.
- Once the refrigerant is cooled, it is sent back to the evaporator coil, which absorbs more heat from the air and restarts the cycle.
- As the temperature in the room gets closer to its desired level, the compressor will slow down or turn off until it is needed again.
Efficient Usage Tips for Your AC This Summer
If you want to get the most out of your AC unit, it’s important to use a few helpful tips:
- Raise the thermostat whenever possible while still staying comfortable.
- Seal doors and windows from letting cool air escape.
- Routinely clean your filters for improved airflow efficiency.
- Invest in a programmable or smart thermostat that will give you more control over temperatures when you’re away.
- Book annual maintenance check-ups with an expert technician for optimal results
Following these tips will help you keep your operating costs down and ensure your air conditioner lasts as long as possible.
Air Conditioning Maintenance
Consistent maintenance is essential in order to keep your air conditioning system running smoothly and efficiently.
It’s Getting Hot, Hot, Hot
Beat the summer heat and keep your energy bills in check with optimal air conditioner performance! Schedule your AC maintenance with JW today!