In short, central air conditioning is a system in which air is brought in and cooled from one central location. In a traditional central air conditioning system, fans circulate through ductwork installed throughout your home. Fans pull the air into the central AC system, cool it, and then push it throughout the ductwork and into the rooms of your house, while other fans pull the warm air out and discharge it outdoors. A thermostat installed inside your home controls the interior temperature of the air and allows you to set it to your personal comfort level. Read more about the intricacies of central air conditioning and why it might be a beneficial option for your home.
The Beginnings of Air Conditioning
While attempting to lower the humidity in the air of a printing press plant, so the paper would absorb more ink, the electrical engineer, Willis Haviland Carrier, accidentally invented air conditioning in 1902. Carrier accomplished this simply by blowing the air inside of the building across cold pipes. When the warmer air passed over the cold pipes, the pipes drew the heat out of the air, and the air cooled. Since cooler air holds less moisture than warmer air, cooling the air not only improved the quality of the printing process, but also made the plant more comfortable for the workers.
Mechanics of Modern Central Air Conditioning
Modern air conditioners work on the same principles as the Carrier units invented over a century ago, but current technology has improved their operating efficiency many times over. Modern air conditioners use refrigerants to boost the laws of physics, which change from liquid to gas during evaporation. When the refrigerant evaporates and becomes a gas, it naturally reduces the heat. You can experience this same thing when you rub alcohol on your skin. It cools immediately. That cooling sensation is the evaporation of the alcohol removing the heat from your skin.
The process is reversed when the refrigerant condenses and converts from gas back to liquid. During this liquidation process, the refrigerant expels the heat. Air conditioning works by using these properties in tandem; cooling air by forcing refrigerant to evaporate and heating the air by causing it to condense through the coils inside your air conditioner.
Fans inside your air conditioning system then suck the air from inside your rooms and push it across the refrigerant-filled coils of an evaporator. The refrigerant inside the evaporator coils absorbs the heat, which cools and recycles the air back into your home.
Inside your system, the evaporator coils absorb the heat from the room. As they absorb the heat, the refrigerant turns from a cool liquid into a warmer gas vapor. From the evaporator coils, the vaporized warmer gas goes into a compressor located outside the home. The compressor compresses the vaporized gas to a higher pressure and higher temperature.
The warmer, pressurized gas travels to the condenser. In the condenser, the gas condenses back to its cooler liquid form and expels the heat out into the air. If you have ever stood next to the unit outside, you have probably felt the heated air being blown out of it. That heat is the hot air that has been pulled out of your room.
The cooled liquid is then moved back inside into an expansion device. The expansion device simply controls the flow of the cool liquid refrigerant into the evaporator. Then the process begins all over again—the evaporator coils will absorb heat as the refrigerant changes from a cool liquid into a warm, low-pressure gas.
What to Expect from the Installation of Central Air Conditioning
If you already have a forced-air heating system, your HVAC technicians can install a central air system within two to three days. Frequently, they will not need to make any significant changes to your existing ductwork.
If your home does not have ducting already installed, you can expect the cost and installation time to double. However, experienced professional installers know how to conceal ductwork behind walls, ceilings, and closets to minimize the amount of lost living space and construction mess.
Installing central air conditioning has many benefits, including:
- Better indoor comfort during hot weather.
- Dehumidification and better indoor air quality. Dehumidifying the air improves the indoor air quality by deterring the growth of mold and reducing contaminants in the air. A central air system does this better than stand-alone units.
- Filtered, cleaner air. Air filters used in central air systems remove airborne particles such as dust, lint, pet dander, and allergens. Some filters can remove microscopic allergens and other pollutants. For people with impaired or sensitive respiratory systems, a central air conditioning system can contribute to better health.
- Convenience. A central air system can cool multiple rooms individually or your entire house.
- Energy efficiency. The total energy use of a central AC unit is significantly more efficient than using multiple single units. And you can improve your efficiency even more with smart thermostats!
Aside: Ductless AC Systems
Not all homes can accommodate ductwork. In such cases, a ductless air conditioning system is a great choice. Ductless systems have a single outdoor air conditioner or heat pump connected to air handling units that are installed in one or more rooms of the home.
Each air handling unit allows temperature control separately from the other air handlers, offering customized room-by-room control. Moreover, these air conditioning systems take up very little space but pack a lot of power. A single outdoor compressor/condenser can support up to four indoor air-handler units. That means one outdoor unit can cool up to four rooms.
Contact Presidential Heating and Air for more information
Interested in a central or ductless air conditioning installation? The experts at Presidential Heating and Air can help you find the right system for your lifestyle and budget. Contact Presidential Heating and Air for more information about the best system for your home and learn about your air conditioning options.