To become an expert air conditioning installer, service engineer, repairer or enthusiast, learning every aspect of why and how it works as well as what makes up a complete system is the first and most important step to take. In this area of the website, we'll be taking all important aspects of AC and explaining them in as much detail as is necessary to provide a working knowledge of the way in which it works and the situations where it is everything from an absolute necessity to a handy convenience.
There are many resources available online to learn from, but finding trustworthy and verifiable information is not always the easiest thing to do, especially when you are searching for specific details. If you are a student of the cooling side of HVAC/R, you'll find our own recommendations of external resources useful along with the internal information we have provided.
Why Do We Need Air Conditioning?
One of the first questions a lot of students ask is why we actually even need AC in buildings, especially in climates that are not necessarily so hot.
The answer is often dependent on the specific situation, but unless the local climate is very hot or has periods of uncomfortably hot weather during the hottest seasons, the reason could just be one of convenience rather than necessity.
The level of what people view as a comfortable indoor temperature will vary from area to area throughout the world as permanent dwellers in any locality tend to grow accustomed to their own climate.
This is a phenomenon that can be demonstrated by taking a person who lives in a very cold climate for most of the year, such as for example Alaska and placing them on a summer vacation in Florida where they will find the summer temperatures extremely uncomfortable.
Yet do exactly the same thing with a person that lives in Florida and place them on summer vacation in a cooler state such as for example New Jersey where it will feel hot enough for local residents to require a cooling system in their homes, and that person would find an un-cooled building perfectly comfortable.
The answer to the question of why we need an internal; cooling solution at all therefore depends on the location and the level of acclimatization of a particular person.
How Air Conditioners Work
I don't want to go into great detail in this page as it's meant as an overview and introduction to the more detailed articles contained under its banner, but it would be helpful to explain the basics here.
All AC works in a similar way to how a refrigerator keeps its interior cold, just on a larger scale. In that sense, what is used is a mechanical system comprising:
- A repository of special refrigerant gas that cools when compressed
- A powerful gas compressor to compress and chill the gas
- A radiator grid the cold gas is pumped through which to pass warmer air to chill it
- A fan and ducting to distribute the cold air into the space being cooled
Where a refrigerator has only a small, enclosed space to maintain the temperature, an AC has a much larger space (the room) to contend with and so requires a much larger and more powerful cooling process to achieve a comfortable interior temperature for the room's occupants. This is evident in the size of the equipment and the power consumption relative to its size and output capacity.
As mentioned above, this page contains a review of this section of the website and to expand on the subject while providing more detailed information, it is best practice to divide each sub-section into separate pages to make reading and digestion of the information provided easier and more structured. You will find the related article titles listed below. Simply click a title to open and read the page.