South African summers can be incredibly hot and not even a tall, cold drink and strong fan helps on the worst of days. That's why air conditioning your living space is such a great idea – you will be cool all summer long.
Having a proper air conditioning system will offer respite from the heat and aid in purifying the air. If you invest in a sound system, you will also have heating and humidity control.
In this guide, we will look at how do air conditioning systems work, how to choose one and more.
How Do Air Conditioning Systems Work?
Since you will be installing the air conditioning system in your home, you may want to know just how it works.
Although this discussion can get rather technical, we will keep it as simple as possible.
Basically, an air conditioner uses refrigeration to cool down warm indoor air. When liquid converts into gas, it absorbs heat. Air conditioners use this natural law and force chemical compounds to evaporate and condense again and again.
All this happens in a closed system of coils. There are also fans involved that move hot air over the cooler coils.
The refrigerant then absorbs the heat while it changes from liquid to gas. To work best, the gas has to be converted back into liquid. For this purpose, a compressor puts high pressure on the gas, and this creates heat.
That unwanted heat is sent outside with the help of more coils and another fan. The gas cools, turns into a liquid again and the process repeats.
What Are The Components Of Air Conditioning System And Their Function?
Most air conditioning systems consist of four essential parts, each performing tasks that make it work so well.
There is an evaporator, condenser, expansion valve and a compressor.
This is the part of the air conditioner that receives the liquid refrigerant. You can find it on the cold side of the unit and is accompanied by a fan. It blows air over the cooled coils. The air is then sent into the room the unit is cooling.
The condenser helps to facilitate the heat transfer in the whole process. It is located on the hot side of the unit, along with the compressor and yet another fan. It serves to vent hot air that is coming from the compressed refrigerant.
This part's job is to regulate the refrigerant flow into the evaporator, and it is located between the two sets of coils.
This is an electronic pump that pressurises the refrigerant. It is the part of the cooling process that turns the refrigerant back into liquid.
You will also find timers, sensors and other additional valves in the air conditioning system.
Air Conditioning System Types
There are four types of air conditioning systems that you can consider when choosing the best one for you.
We'll discuss the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision.
Ductless Mini Split AC Systems
This kind of air conditioner is basically the smaller version of a split central air conditioning system.
Ductless Mini Split AC Systems Advantages & Disadvantages
#1. Installation is easy
#2. Flexible in where it can be placed
#3. Very energy-efficient
#4. Quiet performance
#1. Can be rather expensive
#2. Not suitable for large areas
#3. Often not as attractive
Window AC Systems
These systems are also known as unitary air conditioners. They have a self-contained air condition unit that can be placed in a window.
Window AC Systems Advantages & Disadvantages
#1. Easy to install
#3. Can be placed in different locations
#1. Blocks out light and darkens rooms
#2. Can make a lot of noise
#3. Looks rather unsightly
Split AC Systems
These air conditioners are made of two separate units. There is the coil and the condensing unit and they are split up. The units are joined together by copper tubing.
Split AC Systems Advantages & Disadvantages
#1. Versatile in where it can be installed
#2. Easy to maintain
#3. Attractive appearance
#4. Makes little noise
#1. Can be expensive
#2. Units need to be placed close to each other
#3. Must be installed by a professional
Portable AC Systems
Portable AC systems are not much different from other air conditioners in their functionality. The only two differences you'll notice are the way it gets air and that it is portable.
Portable AC Systems Advantages & Disadvantages
#1. Portable and convenient
#3. Works well in humid conditions
#4. Easy to maintain
#1. Must be serviced by professionals
#2. Not very energy-efficient
How To Size An Air Conditioning System For Your Living Space?
Choosing the right size air conditioning system is the key to controlling the climate in your living space.
An undersized aircon unit may struggle to cool your living space. In contrast, an oversized aircon unit, although it would offer greater cooling power, may be highly inefficient and result in high electricity costs.
You will need to consider the size of the space you want to cool and factors that could add heat to the area such as windows that receive direct sunlight, insulation around the room and the number of walls that are exposed to the outside environment.
Air conditioning sizes are determined by their cooling capacity, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
Use this air conditioner size calculator to get a good approximation of the cooling capacity you need.
5 Tips On Air Conditioning System Maintenance & Care
It would be best if you had your air conditioning system serviced often, but there are ways you can help it last longer. By doing regular and proper maintenance, you can extend the lifetime of your system.
Here's a quick checklist necessary maintenance:
- Clean HVAC filters once a month – Although it depends on the filter type, you should clean them regularly
- Remove obstructions – Pet hair and dust can build up over time and block parts of the ventilation system
- Clean air conditioner coils – The coils of your air conditioner system will accumulate dirt over time, and you should clean it yearly to keep it functioning well
- Condensate drains – The drains can get clogged so use a stiff wire to make sure there is no debris stuck inside the drain channels
- Window seals – Moisture damage can cause the AC's seals to be less effective so check it before the summer starts
8 Tips On Selecting The Best Air Conditioning System For Your Home
Your unique situation will determine the kind of air conditioning system you need to buy.
With that said, you can use the following tips to make your choice a little bit easier:
- Check the cooling capacity – The cooling capacity of the AC system is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). It is the amount of heat that the system can remove in a set time. You will have to calculate what your needs are to determine if the system can cool your home effectively. Use this BTU calculator to determine the appropriate size of your air conditioning system.
- Keep an eye on power consumption and energy- efficiency – When determining if an AC system will be efficient and save power, look at its Energy Efficiency Rating. This is awarded by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and is measured in stars. When a system has a rating of five stars, it will save a lot of energy. It's the best possible rating. A rating of two or fewer stars means the system will consume a lot of energy, and it isn't efficient.
- Consider features – Features that are awesome to have are dehumidifiers, heaters, auto-cleaning and an anti-bacteria filter. Dehumidifiers prevent damp in which fungus and bacteria can grow while the anti-bacteria filter removes allergens, pollen, dust mites and bacteria as well.
- Noise – You will be using your AC system for a long time and having a lot of noise in the background can be unsettling. When buying your unit, consider your options. If you like white noise, you won't mind the noise from portable air conditioners. If you want quieter cooling, you'll prefer a window AC system.
- Warranty and after-sales service – This is an essential factor to keep in mind. Wherever you purchase your system, make sure you are offered an excellent after-sales service in case anything goes wrong.
- Air quality – Dirt and dust accumulate easily and causes allergens and health problems. When you choose an AC system, try to find one that purifies the air while it cools.
- Budget – Air conditioners can be a pricey investment, so make sure you can afford it. It is worthwhile when the summer rolls in so save up for a unit and rest assured that you didn't break the bank to be cool and comfortable.
- Transport – This may seem trivial, but you're going to have to get your new system home without damaging it or hurting yourself. If you don't have a vehicle that can transport it easily, make arrangements before going shopping.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Comfort Zone In Air Conditioning?
The comfort zone is the region of temperature and humidity of air in which people are the most comfortable.
It has been found that a humidity level between 30% and 70% is okay – not too sticky or suffocating.
It's not easy to give a definite temperature estimation that all people feel comfortable in. Some find higher temperatures more pleasing while others prefer cooler environments.
Is Sleeping With AC On Bad?
This can be bad, yes. It is possible that the temperature drop can affect your health while sleeping. The noise of the system can also bring down the quality of your sleep.
Health-wise, sleeping with the AC on can cause stiff necks because your body contracts when cooled. Also, it can cause you to wake up with a sore throat because the air has been dried out.
Is It Cheaper To Leave Air Conditioner On All Day?
In short, yes. It may seem that turning the air conditioner off will save money by not using electricity, but that doesn't really happen. This is because people tend to put the AC on full power when they turn it back on to make up for the hours of non-cooling.
As a result, the AC will be using more power and no money is saved on electricity.
In the long run, you will be saving money by just keeping the air conditioner on at all times during the hot summer period.
How Often Does Air Conditioning Need To Be Serviced?
Your air conditioning system is going to accumulate dirt and dust so you'll have to service it fairly regularly. For best results, we recommend that you have it serviced at least once every three months.
Now you are informed on air conditioners and have an idea of which type is best suited to you.