How Does an Air Conditioner Work

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If you live in a state which experiences extreme temperatures, then an air conditioner will be one of your important home gadgets which enhances your life and makes everything seem more comfortable and much more relaxing. The Energy Information Administration signal that around 87 % of homes across America includes a type of air conditioning, highlighting the reliance on air conditioning systems which has penetrated modern life. But, how does an air conditioner work?

Here at Best of Machinery, we have compiled all of the information which you need to know about your air conditioning system, allowing you a complete set of knowledge. An air conditioner works through a basic concept which is based around a chemical called refrigerant, sometimes known as hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFCs.  The refrigerant loops from inside your home, to outside your home on a continuous basis, banishing heat outside of your home. The refrigerant then cools as it enters your home and the process begins again.

The Air Conditioning Process in Detail

When water is heated, the liquid evaporates into a water vapor or a gas.  It is in this way that the refrigerant chemical works as it absorbs heat during its liquid state and then transforms into gas. The refrigerant is then quickly turned back into a liquid, and the heat which it had previously absorbed is released outside. This cycle continues on a continuous loop.

Parts of the Air Conditioning System

There are four parts to the air conditioning system: an evaporator, a compressor, a condenser, and an expansion device. The evaporator is the part of the air conditioner which is found inside of the home, evaporating the refrigerant chemical. Air moves to the evaporator, the refrigerant located in the coil absorbs the heat from the air, turning the liquid to a gas. As this process occurs and heat is taken from the air, the cold liquid turns to a hot vapor. The air is subsequently cooled down.

Once the refrigerant is vaporized, the gas visits the compressor section of the air conditioner, which is found outside of the home on the air conditioning unit. The compressor compresses the gas to create a higher pressure and a higher temperature, passing this gas to the condenser. The condenser condenses the gas back into the original liquid state and radiates the heat. The cooled liquid then returns into the home again.  The fourth part of the air conditioning system is the expansion device which then regulates the flow of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator, and the process begins all over again.

Additional Benefits

An air conditioning system is a fantastic tool to control the temperature within your home, cooling your family down when the hotter temperatures hit. However, there are additional benefits which your house can reap once you have fully installed an air conditioning system.

An air conditioner additionally reduces the humidity in the air, decreasing levels of water vapor in the air which helps your body feel cooler as sweating is reduced. This dehumidifying action enables the air to be drier as well as cooler, enhancing levels of comfortability within your home. It is interesting to note that humidity control was actually the primary aim of the very first air conditioners, invented by Wills Carrier in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1902. Temperature control was an additional benefit at the time for the air conditioner, which has ironically become the main selling point for modern air conditioning systems.

In fact, it was not until four years later in 1906 that the term ‘air conditioning’ was first used with the very first residential air conditioning system being installed in 1914. This air conditioning system was 7-feet high, 6-feet wide, and an enormous 20-feet long.  Of course, this technology was only available to the wealthy in 1914, with air conditioning systems costing from $10,000 to $50,000, which would be the equivalent of paying between $120,000 to $600,000 today.

Environmental Impacts

In order to maintain an environmentally conscious attitude, it is wiser to purchase the newer air conditioner systems. International treaty agreements such as the Montreal Protocol have ensured that the chemical composition of the refrigerant compounds is much more environmentally friendly. Older air conditioning systems use refrigerant formulas which utilize chlorine atoms which potentially can damage the ozone layer.  Thankfully, these compounds have slowly been phased out for usage with air conditioning systems.

The Montreal Protocol was established in 1987 and detailed the importance of protecting the climate and highlighted the substances which deplete the ozone layer. The refrigerants used in modern air conditioning systems adhere to new regulations and enable you to cool your home in a way which does not damage the ozone layer. These changes in refrigerants used in air conditioning systems have no doubt contributed greatly to the reduction in the global production, consumption, and emissions of ODSs, or ozone-depleting substances.

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