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Residential Air Conditioning: What you should know

If you have or you are thinking of buying a residential air conditioner for your home, then there are some things you should know.

For example, how an air conditioner works, what is the ideal temperature for your home, how to choose an air conditioner if you need to buy one, how to work out required cooling capacity, how to know its energy consumption, and how much does it cost to run, among other important factors.

How does an air conditioner work?

A standard air conditioner is composed of two coils, an evaporator coil and a condenser coil, that are separated in a way by a compressor and an expansion valve. It also has two fans that work with the two coils: one for the evaporator and one for the condenser. Through this entire system circulates the refrigerant, which transfers heat with the outside air.

The air conditioning system works thanks to a refrigerant that is constantly circulating and passing through various phases of the refrigeration cycle. The gas undergoes a series of changes that allows the indoor environment to cool down once the appliance is installed.

All this occurs in a cycle that is constantly repeating to maintain the temperature of your place.

In simple words, an air conditioner works by eliminating heat from a confined space and expelling it to the exterior.  A reverse cycle air conditioning works in a similar way, but heat transfer happens in reverse.

What are the key parts of an air conditioner?

  • Compressor:  Introduces refrigerant to the condenser.
  • Condenser (in refrigeration):  Involved in heat transfer with the refrigerant.
  • Expansion valve:  Controls the refrigerant by establishing a difference in the pressure levels, from the high side to the low side.
  • Evaporator:  Exchanges heat with the indoor environment.

We will not get into more technical details here because you, as an air conditioner owner, may only require basic information at this time. We suspect you have enough going on in your mind and life already without technical information overload.

What is the ideal temperature for residential air conditioning?

The ideal air conditioner temperature for you depends on factors such as humidity, external temperature, and the activity you will be performing in the room you want to cool down or heat up. As a general rule, it is ideal not to lower the temperature of the thermostat more than 5 degrees below the exterior temperature.

This rule is important because it will help you will feel more comfortable in your home. It will also help reduce the risk of any problems or health issues related to extreme temperature differences.

What cooling capacity do I need?

Home air conditioners have two common types of electrical/cooling measurements.

  • Electric power: refers to what the aircon can use during its operation and is expressed in kilowatts (kW) or watts (W).
  • Cooling power: refers to the energy that the aircon can use to cool down a space. It is also known as refrigeration capacity, represented by the unit of measure British Thermal Units (BTU).

Keep in mind that not all spaces require the same air conditioning power. Required power, or capacity, depends on 2 key factors:

  • Square meters of space, and,
  • Climate of the geographical area.

Although these factors are essential to help calculate the power of air conditioner required to obtain the ideal indoor environment, there is more to consider. You must also consider the orientation of the property, the number of people who live in the space, the types of lamps and spotlights, as well as all appliances that are sources of heat.

Woman programming a residential air conditioner

How to calculate the power that I need?

For the convenience of consumers, most air conditioners have in their technical sheets the data and values necessary to assess the power and efficiency of your new home air conditioner. The names may vary between brands, but you should look out for the following data:

  • Electric power (kW).
  • Cooling power (BTU).
  • Cooling Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER).
  • Cooling Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).
  • Heating Coefficient of Performance, which is the equivalent to SEER, but in heat pump equipment.

How to save money with an air conditioner?

One of the best ways to save money with air conditioning is ensure that the aircon installed is the correct size for the area served. If the system is too big, it will continually stop and start resulting in excessive power draw. If the system is too small, it will continually draw power resulting in excessive power usage.

The time the aircon remains on must also be taken into account. This will impact overall energy costs.

Also, keep in mind that it is not necessary to have your air conditioning temperature as low as possible to survive the summer heat. You should set it at a reasonable temperature as this will help you save energy and money as well.

How does maintenance work?

For residential air conditioning, maintenance is as important as the type of air conditioning you invested in. The indoor unit of the air conditioner requires simple routine maintenance that can be carried out by the user themselves. More major annual level maintenance and repairs are best left to the experts.

You must periodically clean the air conditioning filters and clean the drain. In this way, dirt is prevented from accumulating inside the indoor unit. If not done, performance of the equipment to drop, which leads to higher energy consumption and may even cause breakdown or complete failure.

Residential air conditioning technician

Keep in mind that filter cleaning is essential for your air conditioning system to work as best as possible. Not cleaning your home air conditioner can not only cause bad odours and proliferation of bacteria, but it also can make your aircon work less efficiently.

For the outdoor unit, remember that it contains some of the main technical air conditioning components: compressor, heat exchanger, and refrigerant. As such, it is recommended to check them and clean them superficially on a regular basis.

Remember that sometimes it is easy for you to perform cleaning and simple maintenance. However, it is always ideal to call an expert in case you need a major service on your air conditioner or if you have any other problem related to air conditioning.

If you have any questions regarding your air conditioner, please do not hesitate to contact us!