Air conditioning is the term used to describe the modification or control of the properties of the air in a building or vehicle. These properties include temperature, humidity and the amount of dust or other impuritie, in the air. Air conditioning is typically employed for cooling, during the summer months, but, with the addition of heat pump technology, it is also possible for air conditioning to provide heating in winter.
Types of Air Conditioning
Air conditioning systems can basically be divided into portable systems – freestanding, “monoblocks” and split systems – and fixed, air, water or refrigerant systems. A freestanding monoblock, for example, provides a simple yet effective solution; heat is extracted through an exhaust passed out of an open window or specially installed vent and the unit can be powered by a standard 13 amp socket. A portable split system, on the other hand, employs an evaporation unit in the building and an external condenser – connected by a copper or plastic “umbilical” pipe through an external wall – which removes heat from the building and dissipates it outside. This type of system usually requires professional installation but is typically more effective and quieter than a monoblock system.
Fixed air conditioning systems nowadays are typically air-cooled – heat is expelled to the atmosphere using a dry coil and fans – or DX (“Direct Expansion”) refrigerant systems. Water-cooled systems require a cooling tower, a common source of Legionellosis (“Legionnaires’ Disease”) – a rare but potentially fatal form of pneumonia – if not properly maintained. Refrigerant based systems are typically split – in the same manner as portable split systems – but are often the most efficient and least expensive of all forms of air conditioning.
Pros and Cons of Air Conditioning
Air conditioning can improve the thermal comfort and quality of the air in your home or office. It can be of particular benefit to young children, the elderly and, of course, to your pets, who may be most susceptible to high temperatures. Air conditioning can also lessen the amount of dust in the air and inhibit the growth of dust mites and mould, which can benefit sufferers of respiratory ailments and allergies as well as preserving your electrical equipment. On the downside, air conditioning systems obviously cost money to run and can result in an increased electricity bill. They can be noisy (although a quiet system can actually mask road noise, for example), as they work best when windows and doors are closed – which may cause discomfort or illness for some – and are not particularly environmentally friendly.