Understanding the Four Functions of an Air Conditioner

The state of the air is characterized by temperature, pressure and humidity, with pressure remaining constant.

Air conditioning

systems can be used for heating, dehumidifying, cooling and humidifying. For most people, the most important purpose of an air conditioner is its cooling power. However, cooling is only one of the four essential functions of an air conditioning system.

The first step in the process is when the refrigerant absorbs heat in the evaporator coil and passes it to the compressor. The compressor increases the pressure of the now-hot refrigerant, raising its temperature even higher than the outside temperature. The refrigerant then turns into a gas and is warmer than the outdoor climate, allowing it to release heat to the outside. Now that you have a basic understanding of how air conditioners work, let's take a closer look at the entire process.

All air conditioning units, including window units, heat pumps and ductless units, operate on the same principle. Floor-mounted ACs provide cold air faster and look more discreet, but airflow can be compromised. The thermostat, which is usually mounted on a wall in a central location inside the house, monitors and controls the temperature of the indoor air. Additionally, since the system uses filters in the indoor air handler, it can cleanse the air while cooling it.

You can even run your air conditioner in fan mode instead of cool mode if the indoor temperature is comfortable and you just want some fresh air in your house. Window air conditioners have all these components mounted in a small metal box that is installed in a window opening. Even in dry regions such as Southern California, moisture can get trapped inside a home or business, making indoor air much more humid than outdoor air. The blower moves warm indoor air over the cooled evaporator apparatus as the outdoor exhaust fan draws warm air away from the heated condenser coils. Heat moves to the outside, but the air that stays and re-enters your home is cleaner than before, which improves air quality. If you want to cool more than one room but still use ductless air conditioning, you can install up to five indoor units that will all work at the same time together with a single outdoor unit.

The expansion valve sends back cold refrigerant to the evaporator coil where it collects more heat from inside your house and repeats this process. The air passes over the evaporator coil and cooler air returns to your home through supply ducts. Unlike central air conditioning which cools your entire house through a ducted system, ductless air conditioning directly releases cold air into one room. They require less invasive installation because they don't rely on ducts to distribute cold air. Depending on how large your space is and what type of building you have, you may be able to choose between central air conditioning, a window AC unit or ductless AC for residential properties.

Lucy Ryan
Lucy Ryan

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