Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year — nearly half the home’s total energy bill. If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent! Ask Us How…
Do you think air conditioners lower the temperature in their homes by pumping cool air in? Actually the warm air from your home is being removed and cycled back in as cooler air. This cycle continues until your thermostat reaches the desired temperature. An air conditioner is basically a refrigerator without the insulated box. It uses the evaporation of a refrigerant, like Freon, to provide cooling. The Freon evaporation process is the same in a refrigerator as in an air conditioner.
This is how the evaporation cycle in an air conditioner works:
- The compressor compresses cool Freon gas, causing it to become hot, high-pressure Freon gas.
- This hot gas runs through a set of coils so it can dissipate its heat, and it condenses into a liquid.
- The Freon liquid runs through an expansion valve, and in the process it evaporates to become cold, low-pressure Freon gas.
- This cold gas runs through a set of coils that allow the gas to absorb heat and cool down the air inside the building.
Mixed in with the Freon is a small amount of lightweight oil. This oil lubricates the compressor. Air conditioners help clean your home’s air as well. Most indoor ac units have filters that catch dust, pollen, mold spores and other allergens as well as smoke and everyday dirt found in the air. Most air conditioners also function as dehumidifiers. They take excess water from the air and use it to help cool the unit before getting rid of the water through a hose to the outside. Other air conditioning units use the condensed moisture to improve efficiency by routing the cooled water back into the system to be reused.
A window air conditioner unit implements a complete air conditioner in a small space. The ac units are made small enough to fit into a standard window frame. You close the window down on the unit, plug it in and turn it on to get cool air. The fans blow air over the coils to improve their ability to dissipate heat to the outside air and cold to the room being cooled.
If you take the cover off of an unplugged window unit, you’ll find that it contains:
- A compressor
- An expansion valve
- A hot coil (on the outside)
- A chilled coil (on the inside)
- Two fans
- A control unit
A split-system air conditioner splits the hot side from the cold side of the system. The cold side, consisting of the expansion valve and the cold coil is generally placed into a furnace or some other air handler. The air handler blows air through the coil and routes the air throughout the building using a series of ducts. The hot side of the split air system is known as the condensing unit which lives outside the building.
The air conditioner split-system unit consists of a long, spiral coil shaped like a cylinder. Inside the coil is a fan, to blow air through the coil, along with a weather-resistant compressor and some control logic. This approach has evolved over the years because it’s low-cost, and also because it normally results in reduced noise inside the house but at the expense of increased noise outside the house. Other than the fact that the hot and cold sides are split apart and the capacity is higher and making the coils and compressor larger, there’s no difference between a split-system and a window air conditioner.