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The one thing that everyone knows about air conditioners is that they are a great solution to cooling rooms in hot weather conditions. Whether you live in a permanently hot country or just need it during the hot summer months, air conditioning can mean that you sleep better, work better, or are just generally more comfortable.

What a lot of people don’t know is how air conditioners work.

Happy KleenRite Air Conditioner customer 2

How Air Conditioners were Invented

Modern air conditioning systems were first developed in 1902 when an electrical engineer named Willis Haviland Carrier was tasked with solving a humidity problem in a lithographing and publishing company in New York. The humidity in the air would dampen the paper, making printing difficult. Carrier’s solution was to blow the hot and humid air across cold pipes, and as cold air cannot hold as much moisture as hot air, the humidity was reduced. And of course, an extra side effect was that the air also became cooler.

The Science behind Air Conditioners

Modern air conditioners are based on a simple scientific phenomenon, which is that when liquid turns into a gas, it absorbs heat. This process, called phase conversion, is stimulated by special chemicals which evaporate and repeatedly condense through a coil system.

The other main part of the air conditioning process is the numerous fans which are used to blow the air across the cold coils which include the chemical compounds.

The In and Outs of AC Units

There are two distinct processes in successful air conditioning – the intake of warm air, and the output of compressed and cooled gas for conversion back to liquid.

For an efficient air conditioner, the gas has to be converted back into a liquid, and this is achieved by compressing it under high pressure, creating extra heat which is then pumped outside using another set of coils called condenser coils. As it turns back into a liquid, the process can start all over again, giving a continual cycle or air cooling.


The temperature of the gas or liquid is a key aspect of an air conditioning unit, so they have a thermostat which continually monitors and regulates it. There is also a filter which removes particles, meaning that air conditioners are a great solution for people with allergies to dust and other airborne particles. Through the very nature of the process, as shown in the very first air conditioners, they also act as dehumidifiers, and on humid days can also dispel an amount of water which was in the extra-humid air.

Types of Air Conditioners

While the processes are the same, there are different types of air conditioners which vary slightly.

The window air conditioners are set inside a window, all in one box, where the cool air is pumped out on the inside, and the hot air, to the outside.

Bigger air conditioners have the temperature controlled through the building’s heating system, and the side that produces the heat is kept in an exterior unit such as the side of your home. In industrial units, you’ll often see these on the roof.

To be able to use your air conditioner as efficiently as possible, it is important to understand how it works. The physics behind an air conditioner is actually very simple, and while there are a number of processes involved, the basics aren’t complicated.

For more information about air conditioning for your home or building, get in touch with Hamilton Home Comfort today.