Air Conditioners: Process of Producing Cool Air

Over the years, air conditioners have changed and improved for better and reliable comfort. These improvements include better efficiency and less energy costs. As manufacturers continue on enhancing these appliances, the basic principle doesn’t really change. And if you are an owner of one of these highly needed appliances, then it is important to know and understand the process of how they produce cooled air.

Air conditioner’s cooling cycle:

Before we dive into how it starts working, know that the process is dependent on some of matter’s basic properties. One of which is when evaporation occurs in one substance. As it turns to gas, it’ll absorb the heat from its surrounding air. Now when the gas condenses or turns to liquid, then it will release that heat. With these two processes combined (condensation and evaporation), an air conditioner is able to transfer a heat from one area to another. And that is how it cools your room for your comfort.

Air conditioners have evaporator coils which are usually inside your home. Inside this coil is the refrigerant, a special chemical that absorbs the heat inside the room then becomes gas. This gaseous refrigerant will then be pumped to the condenser coil (which is located outside the home), where it turns to liquid and releases the heat. Once the refrigerant turns back to liquid, it’ll be returned to the evaporator coil to repeat the cycle. With this process being done over and over, the air conditioner is able to absorb heat and transfer it outside.

air conditioners

This cooling cycle is very much efficient for our modern air conditioners. It can transfer a large amount of heat without consuming too much power. And when it comes to consumption, it doesn’t consume refrigerant; thus, it consumes only electricity. With all the components working properly in sync, then the air conditioner will cool efficiently and quickly. It can even improve the quality of air if unit is properly maintained.

Heat pumps also use the same cycle. During summer, it’ll take the heat from the inside to the outside- working just like an air conditioner. However, the cycle will reverse during winter. It’ll absorb the heat outside and transfer it inside the house. Heat pumps in places with mild climates are great due to its energy efficiency.

Air conditioner’s components:

  • Evaporator coil – located inside the home and absorbs the heat from the air inside.
  • Condenser coil – located outside the home and condenses the gaseous refrigerant under intense pressure which will release the heat that was stored.
  • Refrigerant lines – insulated conduits that carry the refrigerant from the evaporator to the condenser.
  • Compressor – also located outside. It puts pressure to the gaseous refrigerant to condense it.
  • Expansion valve – regulates the refrigerant’s flow into the coils.
  • Refrigerants – chemicals that have properties allowing them to change phase at low temperatures.
  • Thermostat – monitors the temperature inside and turns the air conditioner on and off.
  • Air filter – filters the debris and the dust from the cold air as it’s blown into rooms.

Air conditioner misconceptions:

For air conditioner, bigger is not necessarily better. Size of air conditioners should exactly fit the home’s cooling needs. A unit with too much power will cycle on and off. You can have a professional size the air conditioner appropriately instead of estimating the cooling needs of your home based on its square footage.

Setting the thermostat to a temperature lower than what you desire will not make the air conditioner cool quicker. Truth be told, if you set the temperature to 70 even when your desired temperature is 75, it will only keep on cooling after it reaches 75, leading to waste of power and unwanted temperature swings.

Air conditioners are not replacements for ceiling fans. They are complementary. A ceiling fan will help circulate the air, making the air conditioner more efficient. It can also help in making the air feel cooler; thus, the temperature can be set at a higher temperature without risking comfort. To maximize energy efficiency, invest in a ceiling fan that is Energy Star rated.

Lastly, the location of the air conditioner does matter. An air conditioner that is placed under direct sunlight will need to work harder to cool your room compared to one that is placed under a shade. Also, the unit will need proper ventilation so it should be free of any blockages. Finally, there should be no heat-producing appliances near the thermostat.

Air conditioner’s optional control features:

To be able to get the most of your air conditioner, it’s best to invest in a programmable thermostat. It will allow the owner to set it to turn on and off automatically. For example, one can leave the unit at a high temperature during the day when it’s empty then lower it down when the owners are home. A programmable thermostat also allows that owner to control the temperature in each room. For on-the-go owners, some of the advanced control equipment also offer remote access.

Air conditioner maintenance and troubleshooting:

For an appliance that is concentrated only in giving you the best comfort, maintaining it is the best response. First on the list is the air filter. Since they filter dust and dirt, they can clog up eventually. If left dirty, the quality of air will be reduced and can even cause freezing. You can prevent this by regularly replacing or cleaning the filter.

Reusable air filters should be washed thoroughly and completely dried before being returned in the unit. You might damage the filter if the surface is wiped so let it dry naturally. Disposable filters should be replaced with filters that are fit for your model and are recommended by authorized dealers. Avoid using the one-size-fits-all filters.

Before the cooling season, check the unit for any potential problems. Make sure that the refrigerant is still in the right range by checking the refrigerant gauge. Also, the wires should have no rust or corrosion. The drain should still be able to remove excess moisture. You can test this by running a hard wire through the unit’s drain at least once a year.

To get your money’s worth, you might want to consider having an annual service agreement. The professional would be able to check if all components are working fine and fix minor problems that may cause a major headache later. They can also make calibrations that will help maximize the efficiency of the air conditioner. This will save you money 2 ways. (1) It’ll lessen your monthly utility bills, and (2) it will prevent you from spending money on repairs that can occur in the future.

Air conditioners are what we depend on throughout the hot season but it can only give us the comfort we allow them to give. With enough knowledge on how it works and how to maintain it, there is no doubt that we’ll get the most of what we paid for.