How Your Air Conditioning System Works


Air conditioning systems are commonplace these days owing to their large scale adoption by residential and commercial users. Ever since their invention on 17 July 1902 by Willis Carrier, air conditioning systems have penetrated a huge market of people who wish to keep their space comfortable and livable.

However, have you ever wondered how does air conditioning systems work? Not many users care to know. But it’s always good to know the mechanics behind an appliance that’s so widely used in both homes and commercial spaces. Let’s get to know the process in more depth here:

The cooling process of an air conditioning system

It’s a known fact that a modern HVAC system performs heating and cooling functions. Simply put, an air conditioning system is essentially a part of central heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system. Its basic function is to circulate cool air within your space by following a mechanism of drawing in heat energy from outside and transferring it inside. The cool air is passed through the ductwork within the HVAC system.

The air conditioning unit of an HVAC system makes use of chemicals called refrigerants that transform gas into liquid and quickly back into gas. There’s a thermostat, which is placed on the wall in your space, monitors and controls the indoor temperature. These chemicals draw in unwanted heat and humidity from your interior space and transfer it to the air outside through the air ducts.

How it works

An air conditioning unit is made of three essential parts: the compressor, the condenser, and the evaporator. The compressor and the condenser of the unit are located on the exterior part of the air conditioning system. The evaporator is placed inside the house.

The refrigerant of your air conditioning system reaches the compressor outside in the form of low-pressure gas. The gas is squeezed by the compressor and there is a rise in the temperature—a process that packs the molecules closer to each other. The closer these molecules come, the higher the temperature and energy.

The compressor then sends the compressed refrigerant gas to the condenser coil, a place where the gas turns into liquid. The refrigerant then moves back into your space and enters the evaporator. Here, the liquid evaporates and the indoor coil cools down. There’s a large fan in your air conditioning system that blows the indoor air over the cold evaporator. This is where the indoor heat is absorbed by the refrigerant.

The cool air circulates throughout your living space, while the heated and evaporated gas goes back into the system’s compressor. All the heat is released into your outside air as the gaseous refrigerant converts back to liquid state. The system sucks air into the air ducts via a vent. The gas is cooled in the evaporator using this air by removing the heat from it. The air ducts then blow the cool air back into your space.

The cycle of drawing in hot air and release cool air goes on till your space reaches the desired temperature. When the thermostat of your air conditioning system senses that the temperature inside is at the set level, it turns off the system. When the air inside your room starts to heat up again, the thermostat switches the AC system back on until the desired temperature is reached again.

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Types of air conditioning systems

Since indoor living spaces are now available in a variety of sizes and shapes—from the tiny havens to 25,000-square foot estates—air conditioning systems also come in different configurations and styles. All make a modest attempt to match the comfort needs of occupants.

In the marketplace, you may typically find three types of air conditioning systems: packaged AC, split-system AC, and ductless AC. Each of these air conditioning systems has its own applications, but their underlying function remains the same – to make your interior space cool. The kind of air conditioning system that suits you the best will depend mainly on your geographical location, the size of your physical space, and how you wish to use it.

All in all

Irrespective of the type of air conditioning system you buy for your home or office space, knowing the technical aspects and processes will always put you at an advantage. When you are armed with this knowledge, you will be able to make a better choice while investing in an HVAC system. Moreover, you will be able to negotiate better with AC repair service providers whenever any component of your HVAC system goes out of kilter.