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Car Air Conditioning Explained

16 November 2015, 14:16

Car Air Conditioning Explained

Car air conditioning is a system within your car that allows you to cool the interior air of the vehicle in hot weather, providing for a cooler environment for the occupants.

Air conditioning now comes as standard in almost all newly produced cars and is a feature that most car owners have come to expect.


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The concept of air conditioning in a car was first properly developed by the Packard Motor Company in the United States. In 1939, they launched air conditioning as an add-on extra for purchasers of their cars.

Air conditioning was initially slow to grow in popularity but by 1970, almost half of all new cars produced had air conditioning.

Although over 75-years-old, the air conditioning in your car now still works to the same basic principles as developed in the 1930s. Your car’s air conditioning system is made up of three main parts – the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator.

They all work together moving a substance called refrigerant through a high pressure/low pressure closed-loop system. Refrigerant changes from gas to liquid, and back to gas, and is a vital part of the air conditioning system and process.

The compressor is driven by a belt attached to the car engine. This is where the low-pressure refrigerant gas is compressed into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas before being pumped to the condenser.

The condenser works like your car’s radiator by dissipating out heat but also cooling the high-pressure refrigerant gas so it forms into a high-pressure liquid.

This high-pressure liquid then has any water removed from it by a small until called the receiver-dryer before being pumped to the thermal expansion valve.

Here, the high-pressure liquid is allowed to expand and become a low-pressure liquid, as it enters the low-pressure side of the loop system before moving to the evaporator which is located within the vehicle interior.

At this point, the low-pressure refrigerant liquid again turns into a gas and moves out of the evaporator taking the heat from the interior of the vehicle.

During this process, a fan blows over the exterior of the compressor, blowing cool air into the interior of the vehicle.

The low-pressure refrigerant gas now enters the compressor once more and the process begins again.


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