How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Before the invention of air conditioning in the early 1900s, people had to rely on other methods to keep their homes and buildings cool during warm days and nights. However, simply opening windows and even installing special vented levers above interior doors didn’t bring the temperature down very much.

Air conditioning was first used in more industrial and commercial settings, but it rapidly grew in popularity. People didn’t want to have to go to movie theaters and stores to get relief from the heat. They wanted to bring cool air into their homes, too. In time, they got their wish with portable air conditioners and whole-house air conditioning units.

How do air conditioners work, though? What happens inside an air conditioner that turns hot air into cool air? The process involves several key elements.

The Step-by-Step Air Cooling Process

Although air conditioners can come in a variety of forms, they all rely on the use of a refrigerant. A refrigerant is a gas chemical with lots of versatility. The refrigerant is located inside the air conditioning unit and remains dormant until you turn on the air conditioner or switch on your thermostat.

As the air conditioner kicks into service, the refrigerant is sent through the condenser. Once there, the refrigerant is converted from a gas to a liquid. This allows the refrigerant to flow through the condenser, cooling it as it begins to evaporate. At this point, warm air from your house is sent through the condenser coils, turning it into cool air. The cool air is then delivered to the rooms in your house. Any residual warm air from the air conditioner’s operation is pumped outside.

This process continues until the air conditioner receives information from sensors that your home has reached the appropriate comfort level, which has been preset based on your thermostat.

Benefits of Air Conditioning in Homes

Air conditioning systems keep the inside of your home at a comfortable temperature no matter how hot it is outside, but they offer other advantages as well:

  • Reduced humidity levels: Air conditioning can help reduce your home’s humidity levels. Humidity directly affects everything from indoor air quality to the longevity of carpets and furnishings.
  • Cleaner air: Some air conditioners provide air “scrubbing.” That means they can reduce unwanted items like dust and pollen from the air you and your family breathe.
  • Desirable feature for future homebuyers: If you’re planning to put your home on the market in the near future and you don’t have central air conditioning, you might want to have your property evaluated by a trained HVAC technician. Buyers like hearing that the homes they’re considering have air conditioning built in. Your HVAC technician can help you decide which type of air conditioning unit makes sense based on the layout of your home, such as a split system for houses without ductwork.

Keep Your Air Conditioning Unit Performing

Air conditioning may not be something that you think about every day, but it’s a lifesaver when outside temperatures rise. Getting your air conditioner checked at least once a year can help keep it running smoothly.

Looking for an HVAC partner? Shipley Energy is accepting new customers in all the locations we serve in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

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