The basics of air conditioning: how air conditioners work

The basics of air conditioning: how air conditioners work

Arnold Air Conditioning Inc.

Air conditioning systems use several methods for cooling the air in indoor spaces, and in modern air conditioners, refrigeration is one of the most widely used methods. Air conditioning systems come in many shapes and sizes, but the way they work is basically the same. These types of air conditioners use a refrigerant, which is a compound with specific thermochemical properties. In addition to cooling an indoor environment, AC-systems also filter out particles in the air, as well as extract humidity.

Arnold Air is one of the leading Viera air conditioning companies, and offers air conditioning installation, repair and service. Feel free to contact us regarding any aspect of air conditioning.

What are refrigerants?

A refrigerant is a chemical compound with distinctive thermodynamic properties which can be utilized for cooling. Generally speaking, the refrigerant is able to absorb and store heat, and can be transported to an outside environment where the heat can then be released. The properties which enable this are:

  • A low boiling point. This enables the compound to absorb heat without any significant increase in its own temperature.
  • Changeability. The ability to be changed from vapour to liquid, and vice versa, with varying pressure, allows for cooling with the aid of a compressor unit.
  • Lubricative properties, and the ability to mix with other lubricants. This spares the components of the system from damage due to friction.
  • Non-toxic or at least low in toxicity.
  • Non-flammable.

There is no optimal refrigerant in terms of these properties, so choosing the best refrigerant will usually involve some form of tradeoff. The refrigerant R22 (freon) is most widely used, but is gradually being phased out due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer when released into the environment. A different refrigerant, R410a (puron), is a good alternative. R410 is less optimal in terms of thermodynamic properties, but is not harmful to the ozone layer.

How does refrigeration work?

Generally speaking, air conditioners cool the air with a continuous cycle of these steps:

  • Evaporation. The refrigerant is exposed to warm air inside a building, via a network of sealed metal coils. In this stage, the refrigerant is in a gas state, and easily absorbs heat from the air.
  • Compression. The compound is transported away from the evaporator and is placed under pressure, using a compressor unit.
  • Condensation. Arriving at a new set of coils exposing it to the outside environment, the compound is in liquid form, and is warmer than the outside air. The difference in temperature results in the release of heat into the outside environment. With the aid of fans, the dissipating heat is lead away from the condenser coils.

Other components in AC-systems

In addition to the components involved in the refrigeration process, an air conditioning system will also include:

  • Humidifying components. Air moisture is typically collected by coils, and is lead away by collector trays and ducts.
  • Filters. Filters protect components within the units from dirt and debris, also clearing these particles from the indoor environment.
  • Control components. These include an electrical controller which regulates the process of refrigeration, and can be adjusted to a specific temperature range with the help of temperature sensors.

Arnold Air is one of the leading Viera air conditioning companies, and is a good choice for anything related to air conditioning. Arnold Air also offers emergency repair services and financing. Contact us through our Website, or by calling us at 772-589-1063 (Indian River County) or 321-952-5511 (Brevard County).