Air conditioners come in different types, but they all achieve the same cooling purpose. Furthermore, despite their unique aspects, they all use the same model to cool air indoors. Unlike heating that uses energy to create heat, air conditioners use energy to remove heat from the house.
While most people think that air compressors work by bringing in fresh air from the outside, the reality is that the most common air conditioning systems use a compressor cycle that is similar to the one used by a refrigerator to transfer heat from your house to the outdoors.
Basically, the conditioners feature a compressor with a special fluid that changes back and forth from liquid to gas and back to liquid again. As it changes in state, it absorbs and releases heat from one place to another but with a bit of complication as a result of all controls and valves involved in the process.
Even the best HVAC contractors will tell you that air conditioners are designed to use energy to move cooler air from a cooler place to a warmer place.
What components are used in the cooling process?
To cool a room, the air conditioner collects warm air in the room, process it with the help of a refrigerant and some coils and then release it to cool the same place. In doing so, the conditioner uses five major components that include the evaporator, compressor, condenser, refrigerant, and the expansion valve. The evaporator is the part responsible for collecting heat from the room.
It is the place where the refrigerant collects the heat and evaporates to a gaseous state. Some of the commonly used refrigerants include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons and hydrocarbons. The refrigerant absorbs the heat in a room and takes it to the next air conditioner component for further processing.
The compressor is usually located outside the house, and it is where the compression of the changed refrigerant occurs. After compression, the refrigerant is converted back to liquid in the condenser component. During the conversion, the heat is expelled to the outside.
The expansion valve is the throttling device, and it is found between the hot coils of the condenser and the chilled coils of the evaporator. The purpose of the expansion valve is to check the amount of refrigerant moving to the evaporator.
However, the compressor in portable air conditioners is within the unit. Therefore, before buying a portable unit, you should read portable air conditioner reviews to have an understanding of its efficiency and effectiveness in cooling a room.
The working principle of air conditioners
All air conditioners irrespective of their configuration difference whether you are using a portable air conditioner, evaporative cooler, room air conditioner, central air conditioner, or a ductless mini-split air conditioner, they all use the same cooling mechanism.
When you set your AC to the desired temperature like 19 degrees Celsius, the systems thermostats detects whether there is a difference between the set temperature and the room temperature. The automatic thermostat continuously detects the room temperature to ensure that it stays closer to the desired temperature at all times.
If there is a difference in temperature, the system through a grille present at the base of the indoor unit draws the warm air, which is then taken through some pipes where the cooling fluid, the refrigerant is flowing. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from the collected air and turns into a gaseous state.
The evaporator not only collects the heat but it also wrings out moisture from the incoming air and thus, dehumidifying the room. The refrigerant gas is then moved to the compressor where it is compressed increasing its temperature. The compressed gas is then transferred to the condenser where it is condensed back to the liquid state.
The condenser uses metal fins to quickly dissipate the heat from the hot gas to the surrounding areas. Once the refrigerant is cooled, it leaves the condenser through an expansion valve to the point where the process started.
The expansion valve is a tiny hole in the system’s copper tubing. The purpose of the expansion valve is to control the liquid refrigerant flowing to the evaporator. The cooling process is repeated until the room gets to the desired temperature.
The system’s outdoor unit helps to cool the refrigerant before it can be recycled by drawing air into the unit using a fan. Understanding how air conditioners work is very important as it helps people to have a better understanding of their indoor air quality. If you are looking to improve the quality of your indoor air, you should take additional steps to clean up the air.