An air conditioner is a significant component of any HVAC system. The AC unit helps control the temperature of your space and maximize comfort, thereby making the area more livable. It’s one of those little machines that work, and most people don’t give much thought to how it operates. However, it is essential to know what is air conditioner and how it works? Answering this question helps ensure you’re choosing the suitable unit for your space and aids maintenance and cleaning. This article is an overview of the key benefits of an air conditioner, how it works, and how to choose the right one for your home.

What Is Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner is a device that helps to cool down a space. It does this by removing warm air from your space while replacing it with cool air and circulating the cool air within your room.

Typically, your air conditioner would have an outdoor unit, the condenser, and an indoor unit, the evaporator. These two components of your AC unit work together to cool your interior space. Additionally, as an air conditioner operates to cool the air, it also removes moisture from the air, which means it doubles as a dehumidifier.

The Benefit of Using Air Conditioner?

There are several benefits to installing an air conditioner in your space. The most notable of all is that air conditioners make indoor spaces more comfortable. Whether it’s your home or an office, you will feel more comfortable on a hot and humid summer day with the AC unit on full blast. Having control offer temperature also helps to prevent heat-induced health issues. Other benefits of installing an AC unit includes:

  • Prevents Dehydration and Heat strokes: Air conditioners don’t just make your space more comfortable. They have real health benefits as well. Excessive heat levels for prolonged periods can lead to dehydration. If your body loses too much water without sufficient replenishment, you may suffer from a heat stroke. Using an air conditioner will reduce the risk of dehydration, heat strokes, and other health problems caused by excess heat.
  • Improves the Quality of Air: Another way air conditioners help make your indoor space healthier is by improving the air quality. As your air conditioner cools the air, the filters on the unit trap dust, pollens, and other allergens in the air. Also, since air conditioners dehumidify the air, they help to mitigate mold and mildew growth.
  • Helps to Reduce Asthma and Allergies: By improving the air quality in a space, air conditioners can reduce the chances of respiratory issues like asthma and allergies. Also, since we have to close windows and doors to use air conditioners, new allergens, germs, and dust from outside are not released into your space.
  • Commercial and industrial benefits: Air conditioners also find application in commercial or industrial settings. In addition to making workers and customers more comfortable, air conditioners can also reduce heat stress on delicate machines, computers, and large server rooms. They are also installed to minimize food spoilage in grocery stores or restaurants.

How Do Air Conditioners Work?

The mechanism of operation of your AC unit is quite similar to how your standard refrigerator work. Although air conditioners come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, their operation mechanism is basically the same.

Your air conditioner works by removing warm air from an interior space and pumping it outside. At the same time, cool air is released into the room. This effectively reduces the temperature of your indoor space. Your AC unit relies on the scientific principle of heat absorption to convert liquids to gas.

Typically, the unit contains a chemical substance that is converted from gas to liquid and vice versa very quickly. This cooling fluid is what aids the transfer of heat from inside your property to your building exterior.

An air conditioner unit has three main components. There’s the compressor, the condenser, and the evaporator. The AC unit parts that are outside your space are the compressor and condenser, while the evaporator is inside the house.

Warm air from your room is drawn into the Ac unit, and this air flows through the evaporator inside the house. The cold evaporator pipes cool down the air while also dehumidifying it (since cool air cannot hold moisture). The coolant in the evaporator pipes absorbs the heat and is quickly converted into gas. This warm air is pumped outside.

In the compressor and condenser unit outside, the coolant is converted back into a cool liquid and returned to the evaporator, where the cycle occurs again. The cool air produced by the air conditioner through this mechanism is recirculated within your space. It mixes with the existing air in the room to reduce the temperature and humidity.

Types of Air Conditioners

There are different types of air conditioners, and their mechanism of operation may vary slightly depending on the kind of unit you’re dealing with. Wall mount air conditioners (also known as split system units) and portable air conditioners are two of the most common types.

Wall Mount Air Conditioner

A wall mount air conditioner is often referred to as a Split or Multi-Head Split unit. These ductless systems are arguably the most common in modern homes. Typically, it consists of two components, an indoor component and an outdoor component. A wall mount unit can be used for a single room as well as multi-zone cooling.

The name is derived from how the indoor component is installed (it is usually mounted high on the wall to promote circulation). Although they have a higher upfront cost compared to portable air conditioners and are more difficult to install, they tend to be more efficient, making up for their higher upfront cost in the long run.

Bear in mind that installing a wall-hung air conditioner in your home will require you to make some modifications, including installing holes for piping. Considering the complexity of the installation, wall-hung AC units are best installed by professionals.

Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are smaller-sized air conditioners with all the components enclosed in a single unit. They are free-standing and can be easily moved from one room to the other instead of being installed permanently like wall-hung units. All you need is a connection to a power outlet and access to a window where air from the unit will be exhausted, and you are good to go. 

Portable air conditioners are your best bet if you want temporary cooling for your space or the freedom to cool multiple rooms simultaneously without buying different Ac units. They are also perfect for situations where installing a split air conditioner is not practical due to space constraints and other factors.

How To Choose The Best Air Conditioner?

Choosing the right air conditioner for you is not merely about buying the most expensive unit out there. There are several factors to consider, including the size of your space and specific features of the unit itself. Here’s are some important considerations to ensure that you’re choosing the best air conditioner for you.

  • Air conditioner sizing even 

before you start considering your budget or specific features you’re looking out for, you need to have an idea of the size of your space. This will ensure that you’re choosing an appropriately sized AC unit for your area in terms of the unit’s cooling capacity.

The cooling capacity of an air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). This corresponds to how much heat the AC unit can eliminate within a given period. If the BTU of your AC is too low for your space, the room will not be adequately cooled. Conversely, if it is too high, it will cool the room too quickly, leading to a waste of energy.

While the size of your room (derived by multiplying the length and width of your space) is a major consideration, it is not the only factor. Other factors such as the height of your ceiling, size of windows and doors, and whether or not the room is shaded also affect BTU ratings.

  • Energy efficiency

Another primary consideration is the energy efficiency of your air conditioner. Typically, the standardized energy efficiency rating set by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is a significant pointer to how much an air conditioner will help you save on energy if you decide to buy it. Generally, you want to go for a unit with a 5-star rating. Air conditioners like this have better insulating material and minimal leaks, which helps you save costs and keep your energy bills down.

  • Consider the noise level.

Look for a model with an excellent noise rating. This is particularly important if you are a light sleeper or intend to use the AC unit in an office or commercial space where noise could distract you.

  • Ease of cleaning and maintenance

Although suitable AC units don’t have too many maintenance requirements, they still need to be cleaned as frequently as possible to keep them in excellent working conditions. It’ll help if your unit is as easy to clean as possible. For instance, a unit with an easily accessible air filter will be easier to clean.

  • Consider Intelligent Cooling

These days, air conditioners have become quite smart, with many compatible with intelligent home systems and auto-regulatory features. These smart features make modern units more convenient to use and further boost their efficiency.

  • Warranty

When you’re buying a new air conditioner, it pays to know the warranty information. Inquire about the warranty duration and what kinds of faults are covered. Generally, air conditioners with more extended warranties are better.

How To Clean Your Air Conditioner?

Dirty filters and coils reduces the efficiency of an air conditioner and drive up energy costs. Not only that, but they also mess with your air quality and may contribute to the release of allergens to your space instead of making it safer. This is why knowing how to clean your air conditioner is essential. The following are some of the ways to clean your air conditioner unit.

Use a Vacuum Cleaner or Air Compressor

You can use a vacuum cleaner for simple surface cleaning and to clean some internal components of your AC unit without dismantling the parts entirely. A handheld vacuum is best for this. You simply run the vacuum unit over the surface of the air conditioner components (especially the ducts) to get rid of dirt and dust on the surface. An air compressor kicks this a notch higher. It is a perfect alternative to a vacuum cleaner since it allows you to clean the internal components of the AC unit with greater precision and get into those harder-to-reach areas a lot better.

Clean and change the Filter.

A dirty filter is a thriving ground for germs, molds, and fungi, all of which can trigger allergies and other respiratory illnesses. Cleaning your filters regularly (every 2 or 3 weeks) should help prevent these problems. Regular air filter cleaning will also prolong the life of your AC unit. For a wall-mounted or portable AC unit, you can easily open the air conditioner and check if the air filter is clean. If it isn’t, it can be removed and dusted, rinsed with lukewarm water, and dried before returning back to the unit. If you notice your air filter is worn out, you should have it replaced promptly as well.


What is the difference between air conditioning and refrigeration?

Air conditioning and refrigeration are pretty similar in various ways. Both systems rely on special chemicals and the principles of compression and air expansion to cool the air. But there are several differences between their operations.

For instance, while a refrigerator mainly uses a coolant gas (typically and HFC) to cool the system, AC units use a combination of chemical coolants and cool air from the room to control temperature. There are also notable differences in how the two systems distribute air. While air conditioning systems project and circulate cool air throughout the room, a refrigerator is designed to retain the cool air within a confined space. Also, while AC systems vaporize fluids through evaporation, refrigerators do so through boiling.

What’s the difference between an air conditioner and an evaporative cooler?

Air conditioners remove heat from a space using refrigerants (coolant fluids circulating within the compressor-evaporator system). The chemical action of this fluid cools the air. AC units work well in closed environments and are more precise in their operation. Evaporative coolers, on the other hand, operate on the principle of evaporation. They are more straightforward, typically a water-soaked medium that pulls in warm air from the room. The water removes heat from the air as they interact, resulting in cooling but slightly moistened air. Evaporative air coolers are best used in open spaces where there is plenty of access to fresh air.


Regardless of the type of air conditioning system choosen for your building, knowing “what is air conditioner” and how it works can help you select a system that works best for your specific requirement. Hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful for buying and maintaining your air conditioner unit.

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