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How do Air Conditioners work?

Air conditioners work in the same way as a refrigerator or freezer. Instead of cooling just the small insulated space inside, an Air Conditioner can cool a room, a whole house, or an entire business.

Air conditioners use chemicals that easily convert from a gas to a liquid and back again. This chemical is used to transfer heat from the air inside of a home to the outside air. In the Portable Air Conditioning units we sell, typically a 1.5m hose is used to vent this air outside. Unfortunately this cannot be extended as it would cause heat to back up inside the unit.

The machine has three main parts. These are a compressor, a condenser and an evaporator. The working fluid arrives at the compressor as a cool, low-pressure gas. The compressor squeezes the fluid. This packs the molecules of the fluid closer together. The closer the molecules are together, the higher its energy and its temperature.

The working fluid leaves the compressor as a hot, high pressure gas and flows into the condenser. When the working fluid leaves the condenser, its temperature is much cooler and it has changed from a gas to a liquid under high pressure. The liquid goes into the evaporator through a very tiny, narrow hole. On the other side, the liquid's pressure drops. When it does it begins to evaporate into a gas.

As the liquid changes to gas and evaporates, it extracts heat from the air around it. The heat in the air is needed to separate the molecules of the fluid from a liquid to a gas. The evaporator also has metal fins to help in exchange the thermal energy with the surrounding air.

By the time the working fluid leaves the evaporator, it is a cool, low pressure gas. It then returns to the compressor to begin its trip all over again.

Connected to the evaporator is a fan that circulates the air to blow across the evaporator fins. There is a vent there where air is sucked into the air conditioner and goes down ducts. The hot air is used to cool the gas in the evaporator. As the heat is removed from the air, the air is cooled.

This continues over and over and over until the room reaches the temperature you want the room cooled to. The thermostat senses that the temperature has reached the right setting and turns off the air conditioner. As the room warms up, the thermostat turns the air conditioner back on until the room reaches the temperature.

Mechanical/refrigerative - dehumidifiers, the most common type, usually work by drawing moist air over a refrigerated coil with a small fan. Since the saturation vapor pressure of water decreases with decreasing temperature, the water in the air condenses on the evaporator coils, and drips into a collecting bucket. The air is then reheated by the warmer side of the refrigeration coil. This process works most effectively with higher ambient temperatures with a high dew point temperature. In cold climates, the process is less effective. They are most effective at over 45 percent relative humidity, higher if the air is cold.

Electronic - Electronic dehumidifiers use a Peltier heat pump to generate a cool surface for condensing the water vapor from the air. The design is simpler as there are no moving parts, and has the benefit of being very quiet compared to a dehumidifier with a mechanical compressor. However, because of its relatively poor Coefficient of Performance (energy efficiency), this design is mainly used for small dehumidifiers.

Absorption/dessicant - This basic dehumidification process uses a special humidity-absorbing material called a desiccant, which is exposed to the air to be conditioned. The humidity-saturated material is then moved to a different location, where it is "recharged" to drive off the humidity, typically by heating it. The desiccant is usually mounted on a belt or other means of transporting it during a cycle of operation.

Air from the room is drawn into the air conditioner, cooled by refrigeration, and blown into the room through the front grill.Hot air is blown outside through the exhaust hose, using the window kit supplied with the air conditioner.Hot air must be exhausted outside the room being cooled, or you will not cool the room.

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