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Get to know HVAC: Air Conditioning

Get to know HVAC: Air Conditioning

For the comfort and health of the public, domestic and commercial buildings are subject to strict regulations. As well as many other safety measures, Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are one of the crucial elements discussed by architects and engineers right from the start of a project. In the interest of comfort, health and safety any structure will have one or more of these components and for good reason. The HVAC system regulates the temperature, humidity and interior air quality of a building so that its users and occupants can enjoy a healthy environment. All of the components in the HVAC system work independently or together, using one or more of three properties – thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer.

The foundations of the HVAC system’s components can be found centuries ago but developments, experimentation and innovations from the last two centuries have made the system the staple it is. The HVAC system as we know it emerged as a product of the industrial revolution which witnessed a real need for such systems to keep factory environments safe and manageable for workers. Despite the great developments since these first HVAC systems, the industrial revolution models still act as the basis of today’s HVACs.

As such an integral part of our homes and businesses, it is a good idea to learn more about the HVAC system and its individual elements – you will be better informed and find the information interesting. This is especially so if you are in the market for anything from a simple extractor fan to a full on HVAC overhaul. Let’s take a closer look at the AC in HVAC, air conditioning:

•    Air conditioning is also known as AC or air con. It is a process that alters the air’s properties (temperature, humidity, purity) in order to create more comfortable conditions

•    Air conditioning is believed to have evolved from a basic concept established in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians hung reeds in the windows which they kept moist with trickling water. The water would evaporate and make the air blowing through the window/house cool. Ancient Rome also used water from their aqueducts to circulate through the walls of houses

•    Modern air conditioning as we know it is a product of 19th century advances in chemistry. The first large scale electrical air con was invented and used by American engineer Willis Carrier in 1902. Before that British and American inventors – including President Benjamin Franklin – experimented with mechanical cooling in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, based on the 2nd century invention of a rotary fan. It was Carrier’s electromechanical cooling that changed the game though, giving the modern world the foundations on which to build air conditioning systems. By the 1950s homes and offices all over America had air con and Europe began catching onto the trend

•    As early as 1933 (The Dubose House, North Carolina) homes were designed to feature – or at least be able to feature – air conditioning systems. The early signs of its popularity and relative simplicity suggested it was going to be a standard feature in the majority of domestic and commercial spaces. By 1845 Robert Sherman had invented the in-window air conditioner which cooled, heated, filtered, humidified and dehumidified air – a model still popular today

•    These days air conditioning is a standard fixture in homes and businesses across the world, particularly in the southern hemisphere. The work and development of system is continual as people are always looking for more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly alternatives and modifications

•    The main types of air conditioner are:

  •     In-window/Through-wall
  •     Split systems (evaporative unit separated 
  •     Ductless systems
  •     Central air conditioning
  •     Evaporative coolers
  •     Portable Units

So there you have a quick guide to air conditioning and the HVAC system. With this bit of background knowledge, you should find it easier to shop for what you want. Of course, if you do have any questions then please get in touch – we’re always happy to help. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about heat or ventilation then please check out our other blog posts!