The Basics of Air Conditioning Systems: A Guide to Keeping Your Home Cool

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The summer heat has come, and many of us find ourselves wishing for a cool place inside our homes. Believe it or not, with the right understanding and having some basic tools, you can keep your home feeling cool and comfortable all season long. As a fellow lover of the cool air in warm, humid months, here is your crash course on air conditioning systems, so you can beat the summer heat!

Quick Insight into Key Points

Air conditioning systems are designed to cool down an enclosed space by circulating cooled air throughout. They work by using evaporation and condensation cycles to remove heat from the air, as well as cooling fans to circulate the cooled air.

An Overview of an Air Conditioning System

Air conditioning systems are critical elements in many homes, providing a cool and comfortable atmosphere on hot days. An AC system consists of two main parts: an outdoor unit that houses the condenser, evaporator, compressor, and fan; and an indoor coil mounted inside your home. The outdoor unit absorbs heat from the air outside and removes it from the home, thus cooling the living space. The indoor coil works in concert with the outdoor unit to cool air within your home – when air passes through this coil, it is cooled by refrigerant before circulating throughout your home.

Installation of an AC system requires expertise, as each unit must be properly sized and connected to ensure optimal operation. Furthermore, seasonal maintenance is essential to minimise power bills while avoiding unexpected breakdowns. Most homeowners choose a split-system AC unit which includes both an indoor and outdoor component, however there is a wide range of alternative AC systems available depending on the size of your home and budget. From single-room air conditioners to zoned systems that use multiple thermostats to regulate different areas within your home, there are some great options available these days which can provide you with an efficient and comfortable cooling solution tailored to your needs.

When considering a new air conditioning system for your home, it is important to understand how they work, its features and benefits, as well as potential drawbacks – including costliness of installation and regular maintenance. By researching various types of air conditioning systems available today you’ll be able to find one that is suitable for you, so it’s worth investing your time in understanding what the market has to offer before making a purchase. Ultimately, the right air conditioning system will help ensure maximum comfort in your home.

Now that we’ve discussed an overview of an air conditioning system, let’s take a look at what components make up these systems in our next section: “Components of an Air Conditioning System”.

  • According to a study published in 2019, the primary purpose of air conditioners is to improve human comfort in indoor environments.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy estimated that 87% of U.S. households have air conditioning and the energy consumption related to air conditioners accounts for 6% of all domestic energy consumption in the country.
  • According to a 2017 survey, 72% of people reported that they believe having access to air conditioning at home positively affects their quality of life.

Key Takeaway

Air conditioning systems provide cooling for homes on hot days and consist of an outdoor unit with a condenser, evaporator, compressor, and fan; and an indoor coil. Expertise is needed to instal a new AC system, as well as regular maintenance. Different types of AC systems are available depending on the size of your home and budget. Researching different types of AC systems and understanding their features and benefits, can help you find the right fit for your home. The next section will discuss the components of an air conditioning system.

Components of an Air Conditioning System

An air conditioning system is made up of several different components that interact with one another to provide cool, comfortable air throughout the home. These components include the compressor, condenser, expansion valve, evaporator and blower motor.

The compressor is the heart of an air conditioning system; it compresses refrigerant gas and pumps it through the system. The condenser then cools the gas in order for it to become liquid. From there, the liquid refrigerant passes through the expansion valve and enters the evaporator in a cooled state. The evaporator is responsible for cooling indoor air as it’s drawn over the cold coils by a blower motor designed to push air throughout ductwork and into room vents.

Some experts argue that a system’s overall efficiency is determined in part by the quality of its components, while others believe a well-maintained system will provide adequate cooling regardless of component quality. Whether going for top quality components or looking for basic efficiency, a properly functioning system depends on having all its parts present and working together in harmony.

Once everything is in place, it’s time to talk about refrigerant—the fluid used to absorb heat from indoors and transfer it outside. In the next section we’ll discuss how this important chemical works and implications of replacing or repairing leaky lines.


Refrigerant is a type of fluid that cools air within an air conditioning system. It typically consists of a combination of non-toxic chemicals and particles, specifically designed to lower temperatures within a space. Refrigerant helps absorb heat from the inside of a home, by dispersing the cool air into other areas. Refrigerants are composed of two different elements: refrigeration components and additives. Refrigerant additives provide lubrication and keep components running smoothly, while refrigerants help absorb heat.

When selecting which refrigerant to use in an air conditioning unit, it’s important to consider both the efficiency level desired, as well as the environmental impact of the chemical used. In recent decades, there has been much debate around the safety of using various forms of refrigerant, as some can have detrimental effects on the environment if not properly disposed of. Furthermore, older forms of refrigerant can be inefficient and cause units to consume more electricity in order to maintain proper temperature levels.

On one hand, many argue that older forms of refrigerants such as Freon are perfectly safe when handled and disposed of properly, providing users with efficient cooling capabilities. On the other hand, some argue that newer forms of refrigerant should be used due to their lower environmental impact and increased energy efficiency benefits. Ultimately, when selecting a form of refrigerant for installation in an air conditioning unit, homeowners should consider both sides of the argument before making a final decision on which form to choose.

No matter which type of refrigerant is chosen, it is important for homeowners to keep in mind that all types must be handled with caution and disposed/recycled safely according to local regulations. Moving forward in this guide we will discuss evaporator coils; essential components for air conditioning systems designed to assist with absorption or dispersion of cooled air into a space.

Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils, located in the indoor unit of an air conditioning system, are responsible for cooling and dehumidifying the air. These coils work with a refrigerant to remove heat from the air, creating a comfortable environment. The evaporator coil first absorbs heat from within a home and then uses the refrigerant to cool it. As warm air passes over the evaporator coils, it is cooled and turned into condensation, which is collected in a drip pan below and routed outside through a drain line.

Evaporator coils come in several different varieties, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Copper tubes are extremely durable and have excellent thermal conductivity; but they require careful cleaning and maintenance to ensure maximum efficiency over the years. Aluminium evaporator coils are almost as durable as copper and tend to be more lightweight; however, aluminium is more prone to corrosion than copper under certain conditions.

No matter which type of evaporator coil you choose for your AC system, proper installation is key for optimal energy efficiency and performance. Poorly installed or poorly maintained coils can reduce the efficiency of an AC unit by as much as 20 percent, significantly increasing your energy costs in the long run.

To ensure your AC system is running at peak efficiency, it’s important to check your evaporator coils regularly for signs of wear or damage. If necessary, contact a professional AC technician to check your system and make any repairs that may be needed. With regular maintenance and care, your AC system will provide you with reliable performance for many years to come. Remember, with Newcastle Air Conditioning, you’ll get what you deserve, a cool and comfortable home.

Now that we’ve discussed evaporator coils thoroughly let’s move on to condenser coils – the other important part of an air conditioning system.

Condenser Coils

Condenser Coils serve as the quiet workhorses of an air conditioning system, converting Freon gas from a low-pressure liquid to a high-pressure gas in order to expel heat. They are typically composed of copper tubing and aluminium fins and either mounted outside the home or within a condensing unit with an outdoor fan to help cool their surface. While most residential air conditioners are designed for condenser coils to last up to 10 years, certain factors such as restricted airflow, blockages, or poor maintenance can reduce that life span significantly. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the unit is kept clean and free of debris in order properly function.

There has been debate on whether or not you should attempt to clean your condenser coils yourself vs hiring a service technician. To DIY, one would shut off power to the unit, spray cleaner directly onto the coils and use a soft brush of cloth to remove dirt build-up. On the other hand, leaving this task up to a professional could be more time efficient while also being insured that all parts are cleaned safely and properly. Ultimately, doing some research specific to your type of system could be beneficial when determining which route is best for you and your setup.

Now that we have discussed condenser coils in detail, let’s move on to the next part of our discussion about air conditioning systems: The Compressor.


A key component of any air conditioning system is the compressor. It plays an essential role in compressing the refrigerant, increasing its temperature and pressure, so that it can be used effectively to cool your home. Compressors come in a variety of shapes, sizes and types in order to meet the specific needs of any given cooling system.

The most common type of compressor used for residential and commercial air conditioning systems is the rotary, or scroll compressor which takes advantage of centrifugal forces to compress refrigerant. This type of compressor is energy efficient and runs quietly, making them ideal for both cooling larger buildings and more compact homes.

Other types of compressors include piston and screw models, however these have largely been phased out due to gradual improvements in the efficiency and reliability of scroll compressors. Some AC systems may still use them for performance reasons such as higher powered units or those utilising multiple compressors.

When choosing the right compressor for your AC system, there are a few important considerations to take into account. These include cost, size, noise level and efficiency. Consider how much money you are willing to spend on the unit, how much space it needs to fit comfortably within your home or building, how loud you’re willing to accept it being while running, and how efficient it is in terms of cooling power per watt.

The right choice of compressor will ultimately impact how efficiently your air conditioning system works in keeping your home cool as well as reducing how much energy it uses in doing so. Choosing the wrong one could lead to costly repairs or replacements down the line.

Moving forward from here comes the often neglected yet vitally important part of an air conditioning unit – the condensate. In this next section we’ll look at what this part does and why it’s necessary for keeping your home nice and comfortable all year round.


Electrical condensers are an essential component of air conditioning systems and play a critical role in their operation. These small devices collect the condensed water droplets that form as a result of the cooling process during the summer months. The condensed water is then channelled away from the air conditioner, helping to keep its evaporator coil operating efficiently. This makes it possible for the system to cool your home more effectively.

However, keeping up with regular condensate maintenance can be difficult, as any failure to do so could lead to potential water damage and even further costly repairs. To avoid this, it’s important to check your condensers for blockages and other signs of wear or tear each month or two throughout the summer months. If you notice any issue or issue is found, it’s recommended that you contact an experienced AC technician right away to properly address it.

There are some homeowners who may be tempted to not conduct regular maintenance on their condensers in order to save time and money. However, this is not recommended since not only can future repairs be far more costly than regularly tending to your condenser—the health hazards associated with mould, mildew, slip-and-fall incidents due to leaks, and much more can pose serious risks.

Overall, condensate maintenance is often seen as a necessary evil, but if conducted properly and regularly can ensure your home’s air conditioning system runs efficiently year round–as well as help protect your family from potential health hazards caused by mould or mildew accumulation around damp areas in your home. Now let’s move on to the next essential component of air conditioning systems – the Expansion Valve!

Expansion Valve

An expansion valve is a type of control device that regulates the flow of refrigerant into an air conditioner’s evaporator coil. This is important because too much or too little refrigerant can lead to inefficiencies in the cooling process. The most common types of expansion valves used today are adjustable capillary tubes and thermostatic expansion valves (TXV).

An adjustable capillary tube relies on manually adjusted settings, while the thermostatic expansion valve uses a weighted metal disc to constantly maintain a constant superheat. Both types of valves must be properly sized and installed, as their effectiveness depends on proper installation.

Aside from controlling the flow rate, expansion valves also maintain pressure differentials between the evaporator and condenser coils. This allows for more efficient cooling as it helps to prevent liquid refrigerant from entering the compressor and damaging its internal parts. Additionally, expansion valves help to ensure that condenser temperature reaches the desired levels to provide optimal cooling and energy efficiency.

Expansion valves have some drawbacks though, as they can malfunction due to factors such as improper sizing or deficient maintenance. For instance, when dirt builds up inside of the valve it can cause it to become unresponsive. Similarly, if a valve has been incorrectly sized for a given system it can become overwhelmed and fail–leading to further problems throughout the system. In order to maintain efficient operation, expansions valves should be inspected regularly by certified professionals and replaced if needed.

The installation of an expansion valve is one essential part of having an effective air conditioning system, so choosing the right device for your setup is critical for peak performance and cost savings in the long run.

Now that you understand the basics of an expansion valve, let’s move on to examine another key component: thermostats and control systems-the next section will discuss how these components interact with each other for efficient cooling.

Thermostat and Control

Thermostats and Control

Thermostats govern the operation of an air conditioning system. A thermostat is a device that measures and controls the temperature in your home. It works by measuring the air temperature around it, then turning on or off the system as needed to maintain a desired temperature. Thermostats can be set manually or programmed with a specific temperature for certain times of day.

Modern thermostats come equipped with advanced features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing users to control their AC systems from anywhere in the world via smartphone or computer apps. This technology also provides useful data about energy usage and other helpful information.

Other types of thermostat control include timed systems, zoning systems, and multi-stage systems. Timed systems are simple to programme but may not be as efficient as other options. With zoning systems, you can control multiple areas in your home individually, providing higher energy efficiency and potentially lower bills. Multi-stage systems are the most energy efficient and often feature variable speed motors which adjust their output to match demand.

Each type of thermostat has its own advantages and disadvantages—determining which is best for you will depend on your needs. Consult with a qualified professional to select the best option for you and your home cooling needs.

Now that we have covered thermostat control, let’s move onto understanding how an air conditioning system actually works in our next section.

Working of an Air Conditioning System

The working of an air conditioning system starts by drawing in warm air from the environment and transferring the heat from this air to refrigerant which is then passed through a compressor. The compressor boosts the pressure of the refrigerant making it become very hot. The hot refrigerant is then passed over coils with fan blades that blow cool air to the environment in your home. This process continues until the thermostat senses that your home has reached the desired temperature.

It is important to note that all air conditioning systems are not created equal – some systems are more efficient than others, and this can lead to lower energy costs when cooling your home. However, any system will wear down with use due to dirt or dust buildup, or if components are not serviced regularly according to manufacturer schedules. This leads us into the next section which is about air conditioner maintenance and how it’s important to keep your system running properly.

Air Conditioner Maintenance

Maintaining your air conditioning unit is essential to keeping it functioning efficiently and thereby maximising its energy efficiency. Regular maintenance helps to extend the lifetime of the unit, as well as reduce costly repairs and energy usage. It also allows you to detect and correct any existing issues, before they become more serious and potentially more expensive to fix. Therefore, we highly recommend seeking professional air conditioning services to keep your unit in top condition.

For homeowners, it is recommended that basic maintenance be done at least once a year, usually during springtime when the unit is not in use for the warmest months. This includes cleaning away any dirt or debris from around the unit, checking all electrical connections, replacing air filters, and clearing away any obstructions from vents or ducts. It’s important to take safety precautions by unplugging power first or if necessary having a qualified technician perform these tasks.

Additionally, some people argue that having a professional technician come in annually for more in-depth service can be beneficial in detecting potential issues before they become disastrous problems. This could include checking compressor operation, ammonia levels if applicable, and overall performance of the equipment which could spot other deficiencies before they become severe. Others may argue this kind of frequent maintenance is unnecessary since most air conditioning units are designed to last upwards of 15 years depending on make and model. An annual inspection may end up being an additional expense that provides minimal return on investment.

No matter which route you choose, it’s beneficial to keep your air conditioning system running efficiently in order to ensure optimal energy efficiency and performance. The next section will discuss how various aspects of your AC unit affect its energy usage.

Energy Efficiency of Air Conditioning Systems

Energy efficiency of air conditioning systems is an important consideration when purchasing an air conditioning system for any home. While most systems provide adequate cooling, the energy efficiency of the unit can have a large impact on how much money is saved in the long run. Here are some of the things to consider when looking at energy efficiency ratings:

Efficiency Rating: In the United States, the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) is used to measure the efficiency level of air conditioners. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient your system will be and the less money you will spend on energy over time.

Climate Zone: If you live in a climate that has extreme temperatures and long cooling seasons, then it may be worth considering a higher efficiency air conditioner. These units will provide better results and greater savings in areas with longer cooling seasons or hot climates.

Size Matters: Depending on where you live, it may be worthwhile to get an oversized unit so that you can cool your home quickly and efficiently during peak times. Oversized units tend to cycle on and off more frequently than smaller ones and could end up costing more in energy than you would spend on a smaller unit. However if your home needs it due to its size then it is ultimately worth investing in a larger unit.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance is key when it comes to maintaining energy efficient performance from your air conditioner. During regular maintenance checks, technicians will check for problems like leaking ducts, dirty filters and faulty parts that can lead to higher energy bills due to inefficient cooling.

While there are many factors that can impact an air conditioning unit’s energy efficiency level, all homeowners should take into account the size of their home, their climate zone, the type of unit they select, and regular maintenance when deciding which model best fits their needs. With some simple steps, homeowners can ensure they are getting an efficient cooling system while also helping protect the environment.

Most Common Questions

What components do air conditioning systems typically include?

Air conditioning systems typically include several different components to ensure they operate effectively. These components include a compressor, condenser, evaporator coil, fan, and refrigerant. The compressor circulates refrigerant through the air conditioning system. The condenser then releases the heat from the refrigerant and cools it down. This cooled refrigerant is then sent to the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air, further cooling it down. The fan helps circulate the cooler air throughout the home via ductwork and vents. Finally, the refrigerant continues to circulate throughout the system until it passes back to the compressor to start its cycle again. Each of these components work together to cool air in the home efficiently and effectively.

How often should an air conditioning system be maintained?

An air conditioning system should be maintained on a regular basis to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. Generally, it is recommended that an AC system is serviced twice a year – once before the cooling season starts in the spring, and once after the cooling season ends in the fall. During servicing, a licenced AC technician will change air filters, check refrigerant levels, inspect electrical connexions, lubricate moving parts, and inspect for any damage or signs of wear. Regular maintenance ensures that your AC system operates efficiently, reducing energy costs and operating expenses over time. Furthermore, it can help to extend the life of your AC and reduce repair costs in the future.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of air conditioning systems?

The advantages and disadvantages of different types of air conditioning systems depend on the specific type.

Central air conditioners, for example, are typically more expensive upfront than other types, but they’re generally very efficient, which can help you save money in the long run. They also have a longer lifespan — about 15 to 20 years — than other types. On the downside, central air conditioners require professional installation and regular maintenance, so that’s something else to consider.

Window AC units are one of the most affordable options available, as well as being often easy to instal by anyone. However, window ACs are generally more limited in terms of features and cooling power than other options. They can also be difficult to fit into certain windows, depending on the size and shape, and if you plan on using an air conditioner during summer months constantly, then it may not be the most practical option due to higher energy consumption compared to central ACs.

Split-system ACs are relatively new to the market and they offer many advantages over traditional systems. They’re easy to instal without needing professionals to come out and do it; they come with both a condenser and an indoor unit that are connected via refrigerant lines; they can filter allergens from your air better; these systems are much quieter than traditional models; and their operating costs tend to be lower than central air conditioning systems or window units. Disadvantage is that split-system ACs can be a bit more expensive upfront than other options.

Heat pumps are efficient year-round heating and cooling solutions that use electricity as their energy source. The advantage is that heat pumps tend to require much less energy than central AC systems since they transfer heat rather than generate it like furnaces or boilers do in winter months. The downside is that heat pumps require more maintenance since outdoor coils need cleaning regularly and filters must be changed every two months.

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Client reviews

Charlotte T


Great service from initial contact to the air conditioning installation. It came in handy just before the heat wave. I would highly recommend them.

Ross P.


Alan and his team have been great. They helped us understand where and why we would want air con in our home. We are cool now.

Karl S


Alan was a true professional took him roughly 5 hours to do the air con installation in my home and left everything as clean as possible.