In the midst of summer, nothing feels better than cooling off in your air-conditioned home. The human body is built to regulate internal temperatures naturally. Unfortunately, buildings aren’t entirely self-regulated, which calls for well-functioning heating and cooling systems.
Gadgets known as thermostats are used to control temperature. Their ease is what makes them so popular. Most of us know where to find our thermostat and how to push the corresponding buttons to warm or cool a specific room.
So, where does the thermostat come from? A good answer would be going back to the beginning. The term “thermostat” originates from the Ancient Greek words “thermo” and “statos”. “Thermo” means “heat”, while “statos” means “to stay the same”. Therefore, the term “thermostat” roughly translates to “heat regulator”.
But, have you ever wondered how air conditioners function?
Many believe that air conditioning units simply push cold air into your home. But it’s not that simple. In actuality, the opposite is true. An air conditioner transfers heat outside and replaces it with cooler air.
Air Conditioners Do More Than Cool the Air
If you think air conditioners are only good for cooling, you’re mistaken. Air conditioning units also condition and dehumidify air. As a matter of fact, the modern air conditioner was created by Willis Carrier as a mechanism to reduce humidity at a Brooklyn printing company in 1902. It wasn’t until after it’s creation that they realized it could be used to cool temperatures as well. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, air conditioners were first placed in high-end houses exclusively for temperature control. Middle-class homes didn’t get air conditioning until the 1950’s and 1960s.
A Short Explanation of How Air-Conditioning Works
Your refrigerator contains chemicals with the potential to convert gas to liquid, as well as liquid to gas. Sometimes in a cycle. The chemical is has a refrigerant. The refrigerant loops back-and-forth in-and-out of an air-conditioned space, absorbing and dispelling heat in the process. How is this? Well, It absorbs heat in liquid form and cools it into a gas. As it cools, it re-enters the home and then repeats the cycle until the internal temperature reaches the programmed temperature on your thermostat.
The Long Explanation of How Air-Conditioning Works
Air conditioning units absorb heat, convert it to gas to transport through coils with the help of a refrigerant, then liquefy the heat and release it outside. Air conditioning works based on a law called “phase conversion”. Phase conversion is the process by which liquid that is converted to gas absorbs heat. In an air conditioner, fans blow warm air over the cold, refrigerant-filled coils. A refrigerant is a substance or mixture, usually used in a refrigeration cycle.
There’s a colder side of your air conditioner housed internally and a hotter side housed externally. The colder side contains the evaporator and fan that blows warm air back-and-forth over the refrigerated coils. From there, cold air is pushed into the room.
The hotter side of an air conditioning unit contains the compressor, condenser, and a fan to push hot air from the compressed refrigerant outside.
Between the refrigerated coils is an expansion valve. This valve regulates the level of liquid refrigerant moving into the evaporator. Once the refrigerant is inside the evaporator, the pressure drops, and the refrigerant converts back into a gas.
As hot air flows over the cold evaporator coils, the refrigerant absorbs heat, converting back to a gas. Metal fins around an air conditioner housing help dispel outside thermal heat, much like a radiator. In order to maintain cooling, the refrigerant must convert that gas back to a liquid. This is done through the condenser, which creates high pressures that in-turn create heat. The heat is then pushed outside through condenser coils. As the gas cools, it turns back into a liquid and cools. Thus, the cycle begins all over again.
An air conditioner sucks air into the ducts through a vent. That air then cools the gas in the evaporator. The air is cooled as heat is removed. Finally, the cold air is blown back into the room through ducts, cooling the space.