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Air Conditioning – how does it work?

Throughout the country, thousands of businesses, community buildings and public premises rely on Air Conditioning to help to control the temperature throughout the building. Many of us experience the effects of air conditioning every single day, but very few of us really know how it works.

Air conditioning systems work by moving heat from inside your premises to outside, similar in principle to the way a domestic refrigerator removes heat from the fridge and its contents and discharges the heat at the back of the appliance.

All air conditioning systems have 3 main components, a compressor, condenser and an evaporator. The compressor and condenser (normally referred to as a condensing unit) are situated externally and the evaporator (fan coil) is situated within the room to be conditioned.

The system works by using refrigerants that convert from a gas to a liquid and vice versa throughout the process, thus absorbing and rejecting heat.

If we start at the compressor the refrigerant is compressed and leaves as a hot high pressure gas and then passes through the condenser, which acts like a radiator, and rejects the heat in the gas to atmosphere. During this process the refrigerant is converted into a liquid which then goes to the indoor evaporator (fan coil) As the warm air inside your premises passes over the coil, it is cooled because the refrigerant is colder than the warm air. As the air cools, it gives up some moisture onto the cold coil face and this gets collected in the base of the evaporator coil and is then drained away.

By absorbing the heat from the room the refrigerant is changed back a vapour which then returns to the compressor, where the process is repeated until the room reaches the required temperature.

All modern equipment will also “reverse cycle” and carry out the process the opposite way around. This means the condenser will actually absorb heat from the ambient air to be able to reject heat into the space via the fan coil during the winter months. Because of the efficiency of the refrigeration vapour compression cycle, heat can be absorbed from the atmosphere in temperatures as low as minus 10ºC.

Equipment can be specified to suit any particular application, dependent on the size of the area, the equipment load within and the amount of occupants that will use the space.

By installing air conditioning in your business, you can help maintain a stable comfortable environment for your staff and employees. Research has identified that there is a direct correlation between hot temperatures and work productivity, with an indicative 3-8% decrease in productivity when temperatures are above 26ºC.

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