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How Does Air Conditioning Work

How Does Air Conditioning Work 

The Air Conditioning System Explained

People donít get comfortable in every environment theyíre in. Especially when the heat is on, people need to cool off to become more productive and lessen their stress. Thatís why there are air conditioners.

Air conditioning units work wonders to people during hot weather whether theyíre at home or in their office. Sometimes, theyíve become such a regular fixture in our daily lives that we donít care how they really work. But itís time now to learn more about this vital appliance and how it functions to provide people with their much needed cool air.

Air conditioners are of different sizes, types, cooling capacities, brands and prices. The most common type people know is the room air conditioner. This type is classified into the unitary system that includes the window type of air conditioner installed in a window or any wall opening and the standalone unit that can be placed anywhere inside a room. Other types include evaporative coolers, absorptive chillers and central air conditioning systems.

An air conditioning unit makes use of the refrigeration cycle similar to a refrigerator. It moves heat from the homeís interior to the warm environment outdoors. During this cycle, a heat pump extracts heat from a heat source with a low temperature and brings it to the heat sink with a high temperature.

An air conditioner has an evaporator (cold indoor coil) and condenser (hot outdoor coil). The evaporator is the one that cools a room while the condenser is in charge of collecting heat and releasing it outside the home. These two coils are made of copper tubing formed like a serpent inside the unit and surrounded by aluminum fins. A compressor or pump also plays a major role by moving the refrigerant (heat transfer fluid) from the evaporator to the condenser and vice versa. As the liquid refrigerant gets into the indoor evaporator coil, it evaporates and extracts heat out of the indoor air to provide a cooler air in the room.

An electric motor is a common feature of air conditioning units. Its function is to drive a compressor which in turn provides pressure changes between two compartments. When changes in pressure occur, the compressor then condenses and pumps a refrigerant around.

Reducing humidity is another vital function of an air conditioning unit. The process of lowering humidity takes place when water vapor that comes from processed air is condensed by the cold evaporator coil. In other words, excess water and water vapor are removed from the cooled area thereby reducing relative humidity by 40 to 60 percent. For people, drier air provided by air conditioners makes them feel more comfortable.

Other than providing cool air in the home or office, air conditioners also help in cleaning air. You probably know now that indoor air conditioning systems have filters that trap dust, dirt, smoke and other allergens circulating in the air. Additionally, air conditioners serve as effective dehumidifiers in that they eliminate excess water from the air and then use it to cool the unit before it releases the water through a hose outside of the house.

See also Air Conditioning Repair & Troubleshooting Guide, and Solar Air Conditioning.

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