Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning Information

Air conditioning has become increasingly important in our lives and has become commonplace in our vehicles, homes, shops and workplaces. Air con units and fridges work in a similar way, removing heat from one place and distributing it to another.

Air conditioners use chemicals known as refrigerants, which can be easily converted from a gas to a liquid. This process enables the air conditioning unit to transfer heat from a room, inside a vehicle, shop or business to another space, usually outside.

Although quite a complex process, in simple terms, this is achieved by a compressor pumping refrigerant through 2 coils – one gets hot and the other cold – and a fan is used to blow air over the coils. This means if the cold coil is situated in the area that you want to be cooled the temperature of that space drops.

Vehicle Air Conditioning

In the case of vehicle air conditioning, the unit is usually driven by a belt from the engine, in a similar way to the water pump and cooling fan being driven by a fan belt.

As this is the case, your car will use more fuel when the air conditioning is being used as the engine will have to drive the compressor.

Vehicle air conditioning originated from the 1940s and has continued to evolve into what we recognise today as a modern system, with many improvements in both performance and reliability.

The refrigerant originally used was R-12 which was more commonly known as Freon. This trade name was given to R-12 by its producer DuPont. Studies revealed that R-12 had a damaging affect on the ozone layer when released into the atmosphere and its manufacture was banned in many countries, including the USA, who joined together in signing the Montreal Protocol. This was an agreement that was introduced in the 1980s which is committed to limit the use and production of chemicals known to damage the ozone layer.

Environmental legislation now dictates strictly who can purchase refrigerant and repair air conditioners. Any refrigerant that is known to be harmful must be collected safely but this equipment is expensive which makes repairs to air conditioners expensive too.

There is a new ecologically friendly refrigerant, R-134a, now available and vehicles with older systems can be “retro fitted” with parts that can withstand the higher temperatures and pressures that R-134a operates at.

It is extremely important to use a competent person to service or repair your air conditioning. European F-Gas regulations cover what steps people handling refrigerants should follow.

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