What Is An Air Conditioner, And How Does It Work?

What is an air conditioner

An air conditioner is a machine that can either warm or cool an indoor space by moving heat energy from one area to another. It does this by circulating a chemical compound within the pipework between your indoor and corresponding outdoor air conditioning unit. 

If you’d like to learn more about air conditioners and how they can provide you with efficient and economical heating and cooling, you can find out more by reading on below.

Air conditioners are a great way to keep you cool and comfortable during the hot summer months and can also provide heating during the winter. But what exactly is an air conditioner? And, more importantly, how does and air conditioner work? In this article, we’ll give you an overview of air conditioners and explain the basic principles of how they work to keep you and your home or business at a comfortable temperature.  

What is an air conditioner?

An air conditioner can be described as an appliance or a system that provides heating and cooling to an indoor space by moving heat energy from one location to another. Air conditioners use a combination of fans and refrigerant-filled copper coils to either absorb or expel heat from the inside of the building, transferring heat outside in summer and indoors in winter. Better still, this process not only heats or cools the interior of a building but also helps reduce humidity levels in the room and filters the circulated air.

This process of heating and cooling is also known as reverse cycle air conditioning and this functionality makes for a cost-effective investment as you do not need a separate system for heating your home in the winter, whilst you have the benefit of keeping cool in the summer.

The basic principle behind air conditioners

At its core, an air conditioning system operates on a fairly simple principle – It utilises refrigerant to absorb heat from inside the room and release it outside. The refrigerant–a chemical compound designed to absorb and release heat by changing state between a liquid and a gas, flows through the pipework between evaporator and condenser coils.

How does an air conditioner work?

In terms of cooling an interior space in hot weather, warm air is drawn into the indoor air conditioning unit and directed over the cool evaporator coil pipework. This causes the refrigerant in the pipes to absorb the heat from the air, which in turn cools the air. As part of the heat transfer, the refrigerant in the pipe changes state from a liquid to a gas as it increases in temperature. Driven by an increase in pressure through the pipework from becoming a gas, the warmed refrigerant is circulated through the system to the outdoor unit. Here it is met by the compressor that pushes the refrigerant into the condenser coil, allowing the gas to decrease in pressure and cool back into a liquid form. From this point the refrigerant is pushed back through the system to start the process again. This cycle is what allows an air conditioner to continually cool the air.

But what about heating?

The exact same process applies to when you want to warm a room in cold weather, only in reverse. When the cool indoor air is drawn into the air conditioning system, it is met with warmed refrigerant-filled pipework as the refrigerant has taken the form of a high-pressure heated gas. In this state, the air drawn over the pipes absorbs the heat instead and is circulated back into the room as the air conditioning system cycles the now-cooled liquid refrigerant in the pipework back into a heated pressurised gas. The best part about both processes is once the room has reached the desired temperature, your air conditioning system will shut down and only monitor the temperature. It will only reactivate when the temperature increases or drops below what you would prefer. This is great on energy costs as it means your air conditioning system does not need to run constantly.

Interesting fact: During the air conditioning process, the water vapour contained within the air being circulated condenses into a liquid form that is drained outside. This is what gives air conditioners the added benefit of dehumidifying the air.

What is the heating/cooling cycle?

Air conditioners are great for keeping your home or business cool during hot summer days and avoiding feeling like you’re overheating, giving you a comfortable space to relax, work or socialise in.

A reverse cycle air conditioner can be used all year round to heat your home in the cooler months too. While their inner workings may seem complex at first glance, at its most basic level an AC system simply works by using a refrigerant to absorb heat from indoors and release it outdoors to make temperatures inside your home or workplace more comfortable. By understanding how these systems work, you can better control them for maximum efficiency in achieving the best temperature for your space.

Looking for an air conditioning solution? Contact the experts

To find out more and get expert advice on how an air conditioning solution could work for you our specialists are on hand to help. Contact Midland Air Conditioning and we will be able to advise you further on the products and systems we offer to help you achieve the most comfortable temperature for your home or workplace. 

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