How Does Air Conditioning Work?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 13 2020 in Answer

Woman Holding Remote Control Relaxing Under The Air Conditioner.
Woman Holding Remote Control Relaxing Under The Air Conditioner.

An air conditioner is one of those home appliances whose popularity of use grew extensively during the last couple of decades. The summer periods around the globe have become hotter, and it isn't very easy to live without some type of air conditioning system in your household. How do they actually work?

Temperature and Humidity Altering Units

Air conditioners are capable of a few things. Their primary use is to adjust the temperature of your living space, to make it cool during the hot periods of the year, or to make it warmer once the winter comes. They can also change the humidity of your home, make it more or less '' moist", depending on the conditions in which you are living. In principle, all of these devices try to draw either the heat or the excess of humidity from your house to the outside and replace it with cooler air. 

This is possible because an air conditioning device uses chemical compounds that can transform from gas to liquid in a rapid manner. Within that process, the hot air from your house can leave outside. This is all done through three main parts of an air conditioner: compressor, condenser, and evaporator. The first two are most commonly located on the outside elements of your AC, and the evaporator is inside the house unit. 

The Freon Based System

The whole process is based on a chemical known as freon, which is used as a refrigerant that can cool the hot air. One thing about freon (also known as the R22) is that it has a very negative impact on the coherence of the ozone layer, meaning it dissolves the O3 molecules of ozone that protect our planet from ultraviolet light coming from outer space. In the most recent years, many efforts have been made, and laws have been brought to life that would prevent the AC manufacturers from implementing this freon in the first place (an R32 compound is the future of air conditioning systems). 

Freon, however, is very useful within an AC system. This fluid leaves the compressor of the unit with very high pressure and hot temperature gas as it advances toward the condenser. The outside unit is made in a way that it can disperse the heat quickly, with the help of radiator-shaped metal fins. After it leaves the condenser, this fluid is much cooler, and because of the high pressure, it changes from a gas to a liquid state. 

Refill freon tank.
Refill freon tank.

Now that it is a liquid, the freon goes into the evaporator through a tiny hole, causing the pressure to drop. When the change in pressure occurs, the fluid turns to gas again and begins to evaporate. To make this happen, the molecules need heat to break from liquid to gas, and at that moment, the heat is pulled from the air that surrounds it. Finally, once the process leaves the evaporator, it goes back to square one, turning freon into a chilled gas, with low pressure. The whole process is repeated, and with the help of a fan that is connected to the evaporator, the air can cycle through our homes. 

This process will continue until the inside unit detects that it has reached the temperature you have set on your AC remote controller. When the thermostat realizes that it has reached the desired level, it will stop the whole process, and turn it back again once the temperature has either dropped or raised, depending on your needs. 

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