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How the Window Air Conditioner Works?

written by: Haresh Khemani • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 11/10/2009

Now that we have seen the various parts of the window air conditioner, let us see its working.

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    Working of Window AC

    Now that we have seen the various parts of the window air conditioner, let us see its working. For understanding the working of the window AC please refer the figures given below. The working of window air conditioner can be explained by separately considering the two cycles of air: room air cycle and the hot air cycle. The compartments of the room and hot air are separated by an insulated partition inside the body of the air conditioner. The setting of thermostat and its working has also been explained in the discussions below.

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    Working of Window AC

    Air Flow in Window ACWindow AC Air FlowWindow Air Condtioner Air FlowHow Window AC WorksHow Room Air Conditioner Works
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    Room Air Cycle

    The air moving inside the room and in the front part of the air conditioner where the cooling coil is located is considered to be the room air. When the window AC is started the blower starts immediately and after a few seconds the compressor also starts. The evaporator coil or the cooling gets cooled as soon as the compressor is started.

    The blower behind the cooling coil starts sucking the room air, which is at high temperature and also carries the dirt and dust particles. On its path towards the blower, the room air first passes through the filter where the dirt and dust particles from it get removed.

    The air then passes over the cooling coil where two processes occur. Firstly, since the temperature of the cooling coil is much lesser than the room air, the refrigerant inside the cooling coil absorbs the heat from the air. Due to this the temperature of the room air becomes very low, that is the air becomes chilled.

    Secondly, due to reduction in the temperature of the air, some dew is formed on the surface of the cooling coil. This is because the temperature of the cooling coil is lower than the dew point temperature of the air. Thus the moisture from the air is removed so the relative humidity of the air reduces. Thus when the room air passes over the cooling coil its temperature and relative humidity reduces.

    This air at low temperature and low humidity is sucked by the blower and it blows it at high pressure. The chilled air then passes through small duct inside the air conditioner and it is then thrown outside the air conditioner through the opening in the front panel or the grill. This chilled air then enters the room and chills the room maintaining low temperature and low humidity inside the room.

    The cool air inside the room absorbs the heat and also the moisture and so its temperature and moisture content becomes high. This air is again sucked by the blower and the cycle repeats. Some outside air also gets mixed with this room air. Since this air is sent back to the blower, it is also called as the return room air. In this way the cycle of this return air or the room air keeps on repeating.

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    Hot Air Cycle

    The hot air cycle includes the atmospheric air that is used for cooling the condenser. The condenser of the window air conditioner is exposed to the external atmosphere. The propeller fan located behind the condenser sucks the atmospheric at high temperature and it blows the air over the condenser.

    The refrigerant inside the condenser is at very high temperature and it has to be cooled to produce the desired cooling effect. When the atmospheric air passes over the condenser, it absorbs the heat from the refrigerant and its temperature increases. The atmospheric air is already at high temperature and after absorbing the condenser heat, its temperature becomes even higher. The person standing behind the condenser of the window AC can clearly feel the heat of this hot air. Since the temperature of this air is very high, this is called as hot air cycle.

    The refrigerant after getting cooled enters the expansion valve and then the evaporator. On the other hand, the hot mixes with the atmosphere and then the fresh atmospheric air is absorbed by the propeller fan and blown over the condenser. This cycle of the hot air continues.

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    How Room Air Conditioner Works? How Window AC Works? Working of Window Air Conditioners. The hot air cycle includes the atmospheric air that is used for cooling the condenser. The condenser of the window air conditioner is exposed to the external atmosphere. The propeller fan located behind the condenser sucks the atmospheric at high temperature and it blows the air over the condenser. The refrigerant inside the condenser is at very high temperature and it has to be cooled to produce the desired cooling effect. When the atmospheric air passes over the condenser, it absorbs the heat from the refrigerant and its temperature increases. The atmospheric air is already at high temperature and after absorbing the condenser heat, its temperature becomes even higher. The person standing behind the condenser of the window AC can clearly feel the heat of this hot air. Since the temperature of this air is very high, this is called as hot air cycle.
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    Setting the Room Temperature with Thermostat

    The temperature inside the room can be set by using the thermostat knob or the remote control. If your window AC has knob, you would see some numbers or the round scale round the knob that will enable setting the temperature desired in the room. If your AC has come with the remote control, then you will see the room temperature on the digital indicator placed in the control panel of the window AC. You would probably also see the temperature on the small screen of the remote control. With the buttons provided on the remote control you can easily set the temperature inside the room.

    When the desired temperature is attained inside the room, the thermostat stops the compressor of the AC. After some time when the temperature of the air becomes higher again, the thermostat restarts the compressor to produce the cooling effect. One should set the thermostat at the required temperature and not keep it at very low temperature to avoid high electricity bills.

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    Setting the Speed of the Air

    The Speed of the air can be set by the fan motor button provided on the control panel. If your AC has the remote control you can see the fan speed button on it. The motor of the blower is of multispeed that type that enable changing the speed or the flow of air inside the room.

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    Important Part of the Window AC: Air Filter

    The filter is a very important part of the AC since it cleans the air before it enters the room. For proper functioning of the filter it is very important to clean it every two weeks. If this is not done the filter will get choked and it won’t be able to clean the air. Soon the dirt will also enter the evaporator coil and choke it. If this happens the AC will stop functioning and cleaning the evaporator becomes a very tedious process. Cleaning the filter hardly takes five minutes, do it regularly and enjoy the comforts of window AC on long-term basis.

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    Images Courtesy

    1) Book: Basic Refrigeration and Air Condtioning by P N Ananthanarayanan, Tata McGraw-Hill Pubishing Company Limited, Second Edition, page no. 213

    2) http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/A/AE_air_conditioner.html

    3) http://homerepair.about.com/od/heatingcoolingrepair/ss/wind_ac_troubl.htm

    4) Room Air Conditioners

What is Room Air Conditioner? Window Air Conditioners.

This is the series of articles that describes various parts of the window air conditioners, the working of the window air conditioners and the installation of the window air conditioners.
  1. Parts of the Window Air Conditioners: Part One
  2. Parts of the Window Air Conditioners: Part Two
  3. How the Window Air Conditioner Works?
  4. Window Air Conditioner used as the Heat Pump
  5. How to Install Window Air Conditioner?