Understanding the Basic Elements of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is a complex system that requires a variety of components to work together in order to keep your home cool and comfortable. Knowing the basic elements of air conditioning can help you make informed decisions about your home's cooling system. The six main components of the air conditioner that homeowners should be aware of are the thermostat, the air blower unit, the evaporator coil, the condenser coil, the expansion valve, and the compressor. The thermostat is a temperature-sensitive device that tells the air conditioning system when to start and stop. Modern smart, programmable thermostats offer advanced features that help you save money on energy costs due to automatic temperature changes.

If you're still using a digital or mercury-based thermostat, consider switching to a more modern one. While 7-day programmable thermostats are good, the benefits of using a smart thermostat far outweigh any initial start-up costs. The air blower unit powers the fans that draw and push airflow through the air conditioning unit's coils, ducts, and living spaces. Engines, like most moving parts, must be oiled and cleaned every spring during preventive maintenance. This ensures a long lifespan and efficient cooling. An air conditioning system has two fans that drive air flow through the evaporator and condenser coils.

The fans are in the outdoor unit and help to suck in and expel air. If you have a traditional cube-type air conditioning unit, you can see a fan when you look at the top. It only rotates when the unit is running and is actively cooling. In a conventional split-system air conditioner, the evaporator coil is located inside the house or near the air controller where the fan is located. The evaporator coil is responsible for drawing heat from the return hot air flow.

The cold refrigerant vaporizes inside the evaporator and draws heat from the return hot air flow. Coils should be cleaned every year to achieve maximum cooling efficiency. When the air conditioner is running, the compressor's job is to extract cold liquid refrigerant at low pressure through the tubes of the evaporator coil. Before the refrigerant enters the evaporator coil, it passes through an expansion valve. The valve relieves pressure, which cools it down quickly.

Most homes that have a central air conditioning system have a split air conditioning system. In these units, the compressor is located in the outdoor unit. The compressor's job is to receive refrigerant from the evaporator coil and prepare it to release heat into the condenser coil. There is a motor that powers the compressor with a piston and a cylinder. The compressor compresses the gaseous refrigerant, raising its temperature so that it becomes high-pressure gas. When the evaporator coil draws heat, it is released into an outdoor cabinet.

The condenser coil is designed similar to an indoor evaporator coil but works in reverse; it expels heat into outside air instead of drawing it in from inside. The main function of an air filter is to protect all components of an air conditioning system from dirt and debris accumulation. It also helps keep energy bills low by preventing inefficient cooling due to dirty coils. A dirty evaporator coil loses cooling efficiency and can form ice. Filters help keep fan motors clean and prevent premature failures.

There are many different types of air filters for HVAC systems such as pleated filters, electrostatic filters, HEPA filters, and more. Understanding how these components work together can help you make informed decisions about your home's cooling system. Knowing what each component does will also help you troubleshoot any issues that may arise with your system.

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