Updated: 29/06/2019

How does a Room Air Conditioner work?

Most UK homes have air conditioning units that also double as dehumidifiers. These are usually portable and can be moved around easily. Air conditioning units (also known as HVAC – Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning – systems) are mostly found in offices, large commercial and industrial complexes, shopping malls, and entertainment venues. The highly humid British weather requires air conditioning units in most indoor locations to control the internal environment. 

Air conditioners are commonly misunderstood only as coolers, especially in warmer regions like Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and the Far East. However, the newer models also work as dehumidifiers, coolers, and heaters, with other functions. 


What is Air Conditioning?

Air conditioning helps control the movement, humidity, temperature, and filtration of the internal environment. Air conditioning is considered refrigeration equipment since it mostly helps cool and dehumidifies hot and humid spaces. 

Air conditioning helps control the relative humidity present in the air with a humidifier. It adds moisture to the air throughout the time it is operational. This type of air conditioner is called a full air conditioner and is not used very commonly. Comfort air conditioners or partial conditioners that use only refrigeration equipment to cool and dehumidify air are popularly used.

Simply put, the air conditioner sucks heat from an indoor environment and transfers the heat outdoors while simultaneously cooling the internal space. 


How does a Room Air Conditioner work?

Conditioning units have five major components. These are chemical refrigerant, blower, evaporating coil, compressor, and condenser. The fan present in the compressor unit blows air over the heated coils to transfer all the heat from the refrigerant back outside. This process prevents the heated air from returning inside the room.

The ducting in a room air conditioner is critical. The compressor is the heart of the air conditioner and is controlled by the thermostat. This compressor works as a pump, allowing the refrigerant to cool the hot air quickly. Fans help suck the heated air into the machine, where the coolant helps promptly cool the air down. Once the coolant does its job, it is pumped by the compressor into the evaporator for immediate cooling and is then recirculated with the help of copper pipes. The evaporator also dehumidifies the cooled air before it is pumped into the room. 

The resultant cold air is circulated back into the room with the help of air ducts and vents.

Room Air Conditioner Work Image 1

What are the Air Conditioning types available?

When purchasing an air conditioner, the options, types, variants, and ranges available can be baffling. Like almost all other electronic products, air conditioners are also slit into groups based on the suitability of users. Domestic users have different needs from industrial users, and so on. The segregation of air conditioners and their types depend on unit size, robustness, capability, compactness, capacity, and available functions. The capacity of the unit is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units). These units measure the amount of heat an air conditioner can remove from an enclosed space per hour. 

There are three main types of air conditioners available – monoblock units, split units, and multi-split units.

  • Monoblock Units: Monoblock units are portable air conditioners that help revolve air around the flow of the refrigerant from one coil to the other. In monoblock units, heat is collected in the second set of coils which is then expelled via ducts or pipes to the external environment. The types of monoblock units are portable ones, floor mounted, simple wall-mounted single units, spot coolers, and window air conditioners.


  • Split Units: Split units have different inner and outer units for cooling and expelling heat. The bulky part that contains the compressor is placed outside the house or area. The internal conditioning unit is connected to the compressor unit with electrical wires and two copper pipes for the passage of air. These air conditioning units have extra filters for clean air circulation and can easily filter out tobacco smoke, pollen, dust, chemical pollutants, and odours. Standard split units are wall-mounted air conditioners (easy fit and engineer fit), ceiling cassette air conditioners, floor-mounted split conditioners, and duct mounted air conditioners.


  • Multi Split Units: These units differ from split ones only in that multiple indoor units are linked and connected to a single external compressor unit. The condenser unit is usually a large one and is bulky. Multi Split units offer more flexibility in allowing different types of indoor units to be connected. So ceiling cassette units, duct mounted conditioners, and easy fit air conditioners can be connected to a single external condenser unit.

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