We all enjoy the chilling breeze of air conditioners when it gets unbearably hot in India. By simply turning on the air conditioner for a few minutes, we can completely isolate our rooms from the harsh environment outside and get a conditioned living situation on the inside of the room.
But, have you ever wondered how an air conditioner manages to deliver such an extensive performance that is not possible by regular air coolers and fans? The air conditioner not only affects the users but also the environment while operational. Thus, it can be highly beneficial to understand the working of an air conditioner so that we can choose a perfect unit.
Today, we will be going through the basics of the air conditioning system and explain how the air conditioning takes place in an air conditioner. You can find a lot of helpful information covered in this discussion so make sure you don’t miss out on anything by reading the article until the end.
Components of AC
The Working system of an air conditioner is quite complicated. Hence, it consists of various parts that play a certain role in the overall procedure. Each of these parts is highly crucial for the flawless performance of an air conditioner and has a certain task that must be completed.
Even though the form factor of an air conditioner changes, it’s component list remains somewhat identical. For example, you can find different types of air conditioners in the market such as portable air conditioners or split air conditioners. While these options might look quite different, both have the same components installed.
Thorough knowledge of all included components of an air conditioner system is important as it will help you to understand the operation much better. Also, you will be easily able to identify the problem with your air conditioner unit in the future if you know all of its components and their dedicated task within the cycle.
Here are all of the components that you will find in an air conditioner:
The evaporator coils in an air conditioner are the components that allow contact between the low-temperature refrigerant and comparatively higher temperature indoor air. In simpler words, the evaporator is responsible for keeping the inside air temperature lower and regulated.
You will find the evaporator coils located on the very front of the air conditioner where the air intake takes place. To allow a superior heat transfer between hot air and the refrigerant, the evaporator coils are often made up of copper, aluminum, steel, or similar highly conductive materials.
The shape of the evaporator coils is also quite unique. You will find multiple bends in the coil that allows longer tubing within a compact space. This extended the time required for perfect heat exchange and also allows more surface contact to be able to extract more heat from the air.
All refrigeration systems consist of a compressor whether it is a refrigerator or an air conditioner. Whether it is a centralized air conditioning system, split air conditioner, or portable air conditioner, you will find a compressor powering the unit. The compressor’s job is to circulate the refrigerant throughout the system by providing enough pressure.
Different types of compressors have a different impact on the performance of the air conditioner. For example, the inverter compressor is most popular in the industry due to its efficiency and power management that helps to keep the running cost lower. In contrast, you can find different types of compressors in the portable units that are cheaper but require more power to operate.
The condenser of an air conditioner is quite similar to the evaporator in terms of design and installation. But, it performs quite the opposite as compared to the evaporator. The refrigerant cools down in a condenser as opposed to getting heated up in the evaporator.
The condenser unit also comprises a large number of coils made up of highly conductive metals such as copper, aluminum, or steel. Another addition to the condenser coils is the blower fan that pushes the heat outwards. This manages to keep the hot air on the outside and avoid the reverse flow of air.
While the refrigerant passes through the condenser coils, it loses a lot of heat due to the blower and long passage. Thus, it changes its phase back to a liquid without losing any pressure. Therefore, a cold liquid refrigerant is available on the outlet of condenser coils which is further required for the cooling process.
The expansion valves are installed in the air conditioner to keep the flow of refrigerant in control. When you change the settings of the air conditioner for your preferred room temperature, the changes are handled by the expansion valve that manages the flow of refrigerant accordingly.
These are some of the most simple components of an air conditioning system if you take a look at its design and overall structure. The expansion valve plays a very important role in the feedback system of the air conditioning cycle. There are sensors available on the valve that constantly monitor the requirements of the system and provide the information to the valve accordingly.
Coming to the most vital part of the air conditioning system, the refrigerant is responsible for the total heat exchange occurring within the system. A refrigerant is a special chemical compound that has unique chemical and thermal properties.
As all refrigerants are man-made chemical compounds, there are tonnes of variants designed by different organizations ever since the first refrigeration cycles were introduced. Out of the many choices, only a few options have managed to find their way to every single refrigeration system with balanced performance and lower global warming potential.
How Air Conditioner Works
Now that you know the different components required for a refrigeration cycle, let’s take a look at how all of these components take part in the working of the cycle. From the outside, it might look pretty simplistic, but an air conditioning cycle is sort of complicated due to its dependency on different parts.
Here are various stages involved in a refrigeration cycle.
Stage 1: Pressurizing The Refrigerant at Compressor
Let’s start with the very beginning of the cycle as if an air conditioner is turned on from idle condition. Here, the compressor utilizes the electric power supplied to it and pressurizes the refrigerant.
The high-pressure refrigerant escapes from the outlet valve of the compressor. Within this processor, the refrigerant is in a gaseous state and hence, gains a higher temperature. This allows better compression of the refrigerant which also makes it possible to travel throughout the system.
Once the refrigerant is prepped in the compressor, it moves towards the condenser.
Stage 2: Heat Rejection To The Outside
As you may already know, each compressor is connected to the outside environment. This outlet is provided to reject the heat on the outside. After the compressor, the nest part of the system is the condenser.
Within the condenser, there are various coils that are paired with a blower. When the refrigerant travels through these coils, it rejects heat due to the constant air contract provided by the blower. This hot air is now transferred to the outside.
As for the refrigerant, it rejects a substantial amount of heat and regains its liquid phase maintained at a very low temperature.
Stage 3: Heat Transfer From The Inside
After the condenser, the refrigerant moves towards the evaporator which is located within the indoor unit in case of split air conditioners. The evaporator exposes the refrigerant to indirect contact with the air via thermally conductive coils.
The air available in the evaporator is the same air that has been absorbed by the suction units available on the air conditioner. This air passes through the filtration system before passing through the evaporator coils. Thus, you will be getting pure as well as chilled air on the output of your air conditioner.
In this process, the refrigerant again accepts a considerable amount of heat and while undergoing yet another phase change from liquid to a gaseous state.
Stage 4: Repeating The Process
After the cold air is supplied to the room, the hot refrigerant is discharged from the evaporator towards the compressor.
Once the refrigerant reaches near the inlet of the compressor, it is sucked into the compressor unit due to the partial vacuum created by compressor movement. The refrigerant is yet again pressurized within the compressor and the cycle is repeated.
We hope that you have understood the overall working of an air conditioner by now. If you carefully read the working stages and various components involved in the air conditioning system, you will realize that it is quite simple to understand.
Proper knowledge of air conditioners and their working will allow you to take proper care of your own unit as well as get appropriate help in case something goes wrong. This information will come in handy in case you face a nominal issue with your system which can be resolved easily.