White Papers

Explaining to a Layperson How Air Conditioners Work

Stephen W. Duda, PE, LEED AP BD+C, BEAP, HFDP, HBDP, ASHRAE Fellow
Project Manager/Senior Mechanical Engineer

One challenge I like to pose to younger consulting engineers is to explain to me how a simple air-conditioning unit works, at its most basic, fundamental level. Usually, the responses I get include a lot of college textbook jargon such as “well, there is an isentropic process in the compressor which . . .” or some version of the perfect gas law with regard to the refrigerant, or a discussion of the Reverse Carnot Cycle. I stop them. And, I ask them to tell me in simple layperson’s terms what is the process in an air conditioner that makes air cold. That skill is important because it confirms whether they truly understand how it works, and it enables them to explain the process to non-technical clients in the future.

Click here to access the entire white paper:  http://www.rossbar.com/perch/resources/2016-08-01-duda-explaining-to-a-layperson-how-air-conditioners-work.pdf

This article was published in ASHRAE Journal, August 2016. Copyright 2016 ASHRAE.

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