How Your Air Conditioner Works - Part 2

Are you ready to learn more? This is Air Conditioning 101. It’s like a class but without the homework. We want our friends and neighbors in and around Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino to understand better the central air system in their home. The more you know, the better off you are. So here’s Part 2 from the helpful folks at GAMA Air.

We had just got around to discussing one of the essential components of your air conditioning system, the Thermostat. First, here is a quick review of the key points from Part 1 of How Your Air Conditioner Works: 1) An AC can’t make cold air, it can only move the heat out of your house. 2) An AC needs to know how much heat to move out of your house. And 3) An AC needs the means to move the heat to the outside.

The thermostat fills the need in the second point mentioned above. An AC simply can’t work without a thermostat. Nowadays thermostats may be given fancy names like “smart thermostat”, “connected thermostat”, “learning thermostat”, or even “comfort controller”. And they may have other features like showing what the weather forecast is for the next few days, showing whether or not it is time to change your air filter, allowing you to program times you will be at home or away from home, or possibly even sensing whether you are home or not. However, the basic function of a thermostat is telling your central air system how much heat to move out of your house.

What goes on under the hood? At its core the thermostat operates based on a temperature setting. Let’s take a real-life example. You want the temperature in your home to be 72 degrees, so you set the thermostat to 72. When the temperature inside is higher than that the thermostat turns on the AC to start moving heat out of your house. When the temperature comes back down below 72 degrees, then enough heat has been removed from your home and it turns off the air conditioner.

The most basic thermostat will allow the temperature to go up or down a few degrees from your set temperature so that your cooling unit isn’t turning on and off a lot. More advanced thermostats add some calculations to that to cycle your home’s central air system enough to keep the temperature steady without that up and down temperature swing.

So how does your AC know how much heat to remove? The Thermostat tells it when to turn on and when to turn off. How does knowing this make you better off? Here’s two ways:

1) Now that you know the important role of your thermostat, you know that its location is just as important. When we say “the temperature in your home”, it really comes down to what is the temperature right where your thermostat is located. So make sure your thermostat is centrally located and is an accurate “summary” of the temperature throughout your home. If all the air is being pulled through one return air grill then near that is a safe bet. If your AC system has return air vents scattered throughout the house then the location can be a little tricky. Here are some tips: It should not be on an exterior wall; It should not be in a room that gets closed off frequently. Put it more or less in a central location.

2) Knowing that the thermostat only tells the AC how much heat to remove, and not how fast to remove it, dispels the myth that turning the setting way down on your thermostat will cool down your home faster. That is a common misunderstanding. Turning the temperature down will make your home colder, but not colder faster. And in the end, you would just waste energy because the central air system would run longer than you really need it to.

What’s the next lesson? We’ll move on to HOW your AC cools your home. Come back for more from the helpful folks at GAMA Air. And as always, if you need a trusted professional heating and air technician to help with a problem you have cooling or heating your house, give us a call at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a visit at a time convenient for you. We 100% guarantee your happiness with our work.

Curious about something related to your cooling system? Visit our Ask an Expert page and let us know what’s on your mind.

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