Most people take air conditioning for granted. We turn on the switch and expect cool air to come pouring out. But how does that actually happen? How do those little machines keep us cool in the middle of summer? In this blog post, we will take a look at how air conditioners work and why professional HVAC maintenance is so important!
The History of Air Conditioning
The first air conditioner was invented in 1902 by Willis Carrier. Carrier’s invention was meant to solve a problem for a printing company. The humidity in the air was causing the paper to warp, making it difficult to print on. Carrier’s invention controlled the moisture in the air, which helped prevent the paper from warping.
However, air conditioning didn’t just benefit the printing company. It also helped to boost the manufacturing of everything from wartime supplies all the way to baked goods. In the 1930s, air conditioning became more common in office buildings and homes. And by the 1950s, nearly every home in America had some form of air conditioning.
The AC Process
Air conditioners come in all shapes and sizes, but they all operate in the same fundamental way. By removing the heat and humidity from your indoor air and then returning the cooler air to the indoor space while transferring the heat and humidity outside.
Air conditioning systems contain several parts and do more than just cool the air. They also can regulate humidity, air quality, and airflow in your house. So before we can look at how air conditioners work, it’s beneficial to know the features that make up a typical AC system.
What is Central Air?
Most air conditioning systems are referred to as central air or split-system air conditioning. Central air is a single unit that contains both the indoor and outdoor components of the system. The split system has an outdoor unit that connects to an indoor unit via refrigerant lines. This type of system typically includes,
This is important to know because a huge part of understanding how air conditioners work.
Taking a look at How Air Conditioners Work
Now that we know the basics of what goes into a central air conditioner let’s look at how it works.
The process begins when your AC unit sucks in warm air from your home. This air then travels through the evaporator coil, where it is cooled by the refrigerant inside the coil. The cooled air is then sent back into your home through ductwork.
Meanwhile, the refrigerant that was used to cool the air in the evaporator coil is now sent to the compressor. The compressor helps to increase the pressure of the refrigerant before it moves on to the condenser coil.
In the condenser coil, this high-pressure refrigerant is cooled by the outdoor air. Once the refrigerant has been cooled, it returns to the evaporator coil to start the process over again!
As you can see, a lot is going on inside your AC unit to keep you cool during those hot summer months. This is why professional HVAC maintenance is so important.
Types of Air Conditioners
As you can see, asking “How do air conditioners work?” isn’t exactly straightforward. And the same can be said about the different types of air conditioners on the market.
Ductless Air Conditioners
Ductless air conditioners, also known as mini-split systems, are a type of central air conditioning. But unlike traditional central AC systems, ductless ACs don’t require ductwork to circulate the cooled air throughout your home.
Ductless ACs are composed of two units: an outdoor unit that contains the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that holds the evaporator. These units are connected by a small conduit containing refrigerant lines, power cables, and a drain line.
Ductless ACs are an excellent option for homes that don’t have existing ductwork or for rooms that are difficult to cool with central air.
Packaged Air Conditioner Units
Packaged air conditioner units (PACUs) are another type of central air conditioning system. PACUs are very similar to traditional split-system ACs, but they contain all of the system’s components in a single outdoor unit.
PACUs are a great option for homes with limited indoor space or those who want a more aesthetically pleasing AC unit.
Split System Air Conditioner Units
As we briefly touched on earlier, split system air conditioners are the most common type of AC unit. Split systems contain two units: an outdoor unit that contains the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that holds the evaporator.
Split system ACs are a great option for most homes because they are very efficient and simple to install.
Now that you know how air conditioners work and the different AC units available, you can decide which unit is suitable for your home.
Let Our Team at ETA Help You Understand How Air Conditioners Work
As you can see, a lot goes into how air conditioners work. This is why it is so vital to have professional HVAC maintenance to ensure your system is working correctly. At ETA, our team of experts can help you understand how air conditioners work and which type of unit is right for your home. Give us a call today!