There are several ways of regulating the temperature of an indoor environment, and in modern air conditioning systems, refrigeration is one of the most widespread methods. Although AC systems vary greatly in size and type, the basic cooling principle used is the same.
In addition to their cooling function, air conditioners also extract humidity from the air, and filter out airborne particles. The key to cooling by refrigeration is the compound used as a refrigerant, which has unique properties which will be described below. Specialty Air, Inc. is a reputable company specializing in heating and cooling solutions for commercial and residential use. Our company is a superb choice for AC installation in Santa Ana CA and the nearby areas.
What is a refrigerant?
A refrigerant is a substance or compound with a set of specific properties which make it useful for cooling. In principle, the refrigerant absorbs heat, is transported to an outside environment, and then releases the heat. The properties required in a refrigerant include:
- Low boiling point. This means that the substance will be able to absorb a lot of heat without any significant increase to its own temperature.
- Can easily change from a liquid to a vapor using pressure (compression), and from a vapor to a liquid (condensation).
- Lubricative properties, and the ability to mix well with other lubricants. This saves the compressor unit and other components from damage.
- Low in toxicity and not harmful to the environment.
There is no refrigerant with an optimum level of all of these characteristics, so finding the best one usually involves a tradeoff. R22 (freon) is one of the most widely used refrigerants, but due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer, it is gradually being phased out. A preferred alternative is R410a (puron), which has less optimal thermodynamic properties, but does not harm the ozone layer.
How refrigeration works
As a general process, the cooling of air with an air conditioner is achieved by a cycle of the following steps:
- Evaporation. The refrigerant is placed in a network of metal coils (the evaporator) which exposes it to the warm air inside an enclosed space, such as a room or building. Here, the refrigerant is present as a gas, which absorbs heat from the surrounding air.
- Compression. Using a compressor, the refrigerant is transported from the evaporator and is applied pressure.
- Condensation. The refrigerant arrives at a new set of coils (the condenser), and changes into a liquid. The condenser coils are exposed to the outside environment, and due to its increased pressure, the refrigerant is now warmer than the outside environment. The result of this is a release of heat from the refrigerant to the outside air.
Fans are used to move indoor air across the evaporator coils, and to direct warm air away from the condenser coils on the outside of the building.
Other basic components
In addition to the components involved in the refrigeration process, an air conditioning system will also include:
- Control circuitry. This includes temperature sensors, and an electrical controller, which regulates the refrigeration process and enables us to set the desired temperature range.
- Humidification components. Moisture from the warm air condenses as it hits the evaporator coils, and is typically collected and lead away by collector trays.
- Filters. These collect particles from the air coming into the system, and protect the inner parts from dirt and debris.
Specialty Air, Inc. is a renowned company specializing in HVAC solutions. We are a certified company with the experience and know-how to make us a great choice for AC installation in Santa Ana CA and nearby and surrounding areas. Contact us through our Website, or by calling us at (714) 641-8049.