To keep our environment at our desired temperature, air conditioning systems are devices that do just that. These systems can be installed in our houses, offices, cars, or even a modern religious center. In short, they can be used in domestic and commercial environments. Air conditioning is often referred to as air condition, AC, or A/C. It features a fan that distributes the conditioned air to enclosed spaces such as homes, offices, cars, factories, warehouses, etc.
Well, in this article, I’ll be discussing the definition, functions, components, diagram, classification, types, and working principles of an air conditioning system.
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What is an air conditioning system?
Air conditioners are systems that are used to cool down spaces by removing heat from the space and moving it to an outside area. This cool air is moved throughout a building through ventilation. Air conditioners require some input of work to operate; otherwise, entropy would decrease naturally, which is forbidden by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Air conditioners act similarly to heat pumps but instead follow a cooling cycle.
In addition, an air conditioning system is an electrical device installed for the removal of heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space. It is a process that is commonly used to achieve a more comfortable environment, basically for humans and other animals.
An air conditioning system is used to cool and dehumidify rooms that contain heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer servers and power amplifiers. It is also used in spaces that contain delicate products, like artwork.
Functions of the air conditioning system
Below are the major functions of an air conditioner:
- The primary purpose of air conditioning is to create a comfortable room climate for humans.
- Some special type of conditioning system is used to cool the temperature of electric devices.
- It controls the humidity of a room, as 30 to 65% is permitted, while the temperature should be between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius.
- The air conditioning system changes the room air to comfort people.
- Air conditioning systems can be used for heating, dehumidifying, cooling, and humidifying.
- The condition of the air is characterized by temperature, pressure, and humidity. The air pressure will not change.
Components of an air conditioner
Below are the components of the air conditioner:
The compressor is the engine of the system. It works with a fluid that easily transforms the gas into a liquid. Its primary function is to convert low-pressure gas into high-pressure gas, which has a high temperature. In its working, the gap regions between molecules get narrowed down with an energized gas. This energized gas which is also known as refrigerant, is released from the compressor and enters the condenser.
The condenser coil contains a fan that cools the high-pressure gas and converts it into a liquid. It is used by the evaporator to cool, and it is placed outside the house.
The thermostat maintains the temperature of the air conditioning system as it regulates the heat energy inside and outside of it. Depending on the design, a thermostat can be set manually or automatically.
Evaporators are air conditioning components found inside the house near the furnace. It’s connected to the condenser with an extremely thin pipe. The high-pressure gas is transformed into a low-pressure liquid in the air conditioner. The liquid is then converted to gas due to the decreasing pressure. The fluid, or refrigerant, is what takes away the heat and cools it off. The evaporator releases the fluid in gas form to be compressed again by the compressor. All of these happen cyclically.
Air Handler and Blowing Unit:
These air conditioner components work together to draw the air to the evaporator and distribute cool air over the room. A duct system helps the passage of airflow in the room.
The complete diagram of an air conditioning system:
Classification of the air conditioning system
We classify air conditioning systems to distinguish one type from another. This provides a background for selecting the best air conditioning system depending on the building’s requirements. An air conditioner can be classified into three categories, which include:
Classification based on major function:
- Comfort air conditioning, e.g. hotels, homes, offices, etc.
- Commercial air conditioning, e.g. malls, supermarkets, etc.
- Industrial air-conditioning, e.g. processing, laboratories, etc.
Classification based on the season of the year:
- A summer air conditioner that controls all four atmospheric conditions for summer comfort
- A winter air conditioner is designed for comfort in the winter.
- A year-round air conditioner that consists of heating and cooling tools with an automatic control could serve in any weather condition throughout the year.
Classification based on equipment arrangement:
- These types include a unitary system and a central system.
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Types of the Air Conditioning System
Below are the various types of air conditioning systems:
Central Air Conditioning:
Central conditioning is the most common type of cooling system. It’s preferably used in larger homes because of its efficient cooling. The conditioning system circulates cool air through the supply and return ducts.
The supply ducts and registers are located on the walls or floors of the house, supplying the air inside. Once the air becomes warm, it circulates back into the supply ducts and registers when it will be transferred back to the air conditioner. Installing these types of air conditioning systems requires planning and preparation.
Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioner:
The ductless, mini-split air conditioning system is also common, but it’s modified with new parts. Just like the central conditioning type, these systems have an indoor handling unit and an outdoor compressor/condenser.
These types of air conditioning systems are effective in cooling individual rooms because they can have as many as four indoor handling units. The handling unit is connected to the outdoor unit. Also, each handling unit has its thermostat, which allows each of them to work at a different temperature. A particular part can be cooled in the system.
Window air conditioner:
A window air conditioner is a compact unit ideal for cooling a particular room. The system is also known as a “unitary unit”; it’s installed in the window of a room. In its workings, warm air is sent out through the back of the conditioning system, and cool air is blown through the front part. It’s perfect for those who secure small spaces, but it won’t be perfect for larger homes as it doesn’t cool effectively in such an environment.
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These types of air conditioning systems are specified as next-generation window unit cooling systems. It takes air from the room, cools it, and then sends it back into the room. It also releases warm air from outside through an exhaust hose that’s installed in a window.
Just like window air conditioning units, these types of systems are also designed to cool only one room. They’re affordable, versatile, and easy to install. Its portability makes it even more ideal.
Hybrid air conditioners:
Hybrid air conditioners are heat pump systems powered either by burning fossil fuels or electricity. Manufacturers intelligently choose a suitable source of energy to save money and energy.
The system works as it normally does in the summer by pulling heat from indoors and distributing it outdoors. It works in reverse in the winter by pulling heat from the outside to discharge it into the house.
The hybrid pump system works with the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat gets transferred from a hot object to a cold object. So, when the refrigerant drops below the outside temperature, the heat obtained from the outside environment is transferred to the system heat pump’s coils and into the refrigerant. The extracted heat is what turns into warm, conditioned air for the room.
All types of air conditioning systems work on the same principle. To cool, a substance known as a refrigerant is processed in such a way that a cold liquid refrigerant absorbs heat from the hotter room in the evaporator, cooling the room down. This refrigerant then changes phase to gas and is put through a compressor to increase its temperature.
Watch the video to learn more about how an air conditioning system works.
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In conclusion, an air conditioner is a life-saving device widely used today. We have covered almost everything you need to know about an air conditioning system, which includes its definition, functions, workings, components, types, and classifications.