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Air Conditioning - How Does it Work?

Air Conditioning – How does it work?

By | Air Conditioning, Commercial, Cooling, Residential

During the Summer in the Miami Valley, air conditioners get used a lot. According to U.S. Climate Data, from May 29th to Sept 18th, our average high is over 75°F. That’s 113 straight potential days of Air Conditioning use.  Then of course, there is the summer high humidity. Humidity levels of 60% or higher can lead to adverse health effects – Bacteria, Viruses, Mold, Fungi, Mites, Asthma, and Allergic Rhinitis all thrive in higher humidity. Central air conditioning systems not only take takes away the heat from inside the house, but removes the humidity as well in the heat transfer process. With proper Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) products, Air Filtration, Ultraviolet Lights, Ionizers, and Dehumidifiers, all of these health issues can be addressed as part of your HVAC system.

How it Works

The basic concept of central air conditioning is pretty simple, remove heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space to improve the comfort level of the occupants. When the thermostat registers that it needs to turn the air conditioning on to maintain the set temperature, the system is turned on or charged. The blower on the furnace turns on and moves air through the duct system and through the filter. This air is blown across the indoor evaporator coil which uses refrigerant to remove heat and humidity. That heat is transferred outside by the lineset and outdoor compressor. A fan on the outdoor unit pulls air over the condenser coils which releases the heat into the outdoor air. The cooled refrigerant then moves back through the lineset to repeat the process until the thermostat temperature is met.

Types

Single Stage
A single stage air conditioner turns on when indoor temperatures exceed the temperature setting on your thermostat. Once the temperature set on the thermostat is reached it turns off again. Single stage air conditioners always operate at 100% capacity.

Two Stage
More efficient than single stage units, two stage air conditioners vary their output between two levels: high and low. Ideally, the low stage would satisfy the thermostat most of the time. When necessary, the high stage would turn on. This helps eliminate temperature swings and helps to dehumidify the air, making you feel more comfortable for longer periods of time.

Variable Speed
Variable speed air conditioners precisely control the airflow throughout your home in order to maintain the highest level of comfort. This allows the air conditioner to run continuously, while consuming far less electricity than a single stage air conditioner. The constant airflow has some key benefits: maximum air filtration, dehumidification, minimum cold spots and quieter operation.

Comfort

Air conditioners play a big role in keeping homes and businesses comfortable during hot days. Being able to lower the temperature inside allows for people to stay cool and comfortable.
The temperature that feels comfortable may be different for everyone. With a variable speed air conditioner, having the air move constantly allows for better dehumidification, better filtration, and lessening of hot and cold spots.  Even with the two speed air conditioner, having the low speed on the majority of the time makes the air feel more comfortable.

Energy Efficiency

If you’re looking at replacing your air conditioner, high efficiency systems can help lower utility bills, be environmentally friendly and maintain your comfort level.  There are also rebates and incentives from some manufacturers and utility companies for higher efficiency air conditioners.

EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio)
EER is calculated by dividing the input electrical power (measured in watts) by the amount of cooling created (measured in British Thermal Units or BTU’s) under a single set of conditions.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating)
SEER is a ratio of the amount of cooling produced (BTU) divided by the amount of electricity (watts) used.  The difference between SEER and EER is that SEER accounts for changes in outside temperature instead of just one temperature. EER should be used as a comparison when the outside temperature is consistently over 95 degrees F.
The higher the SEER, the greater the air conditioner’s efficiency could be. Generally, most single stage air conditioners rate from 13 to 19 SEER. Two Stage units rate from 17 to 21. Variable speed units rate from 19 to 26. Comparing against a 10 SEER air conditioner over 15 years*, a 13 SEER could save $1,125, a 16 SEER could save $1,830, a 20 SEER could save $2,430, and a 25 SEER could save $2,835.
*based on 2016 US National Average

Earning the ENERGY STAR means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. By choosing ENERGY STAR certified heating and cooling equipment and taking steps to optimize its performance, you can enhance the comfort of your home while saving energy and cost. Saving energy helps you save money on utility bills and protect our climate by helping prevent harmful carbon pollution and reducing other greenhouse gases. Air Conditioner split systems and packaged units over 15 SEER qualify for ENERGY STAR.

DIY

Just like your car, your air conditioner needs maintenance at least once a year to keep operating as efficiently as possible to provide the comfort you and your family deserve.  Things you can do yourself include:

  • Replace or clean your air filters regularly – this lowers your unit’s energy consumption by at least 5%.
  • Clean the evaporator coil as needed, typically once a year.
  • If any coil fins are bent, you can straighten them with a “fin comb.”
  • Clean debris from the fan, compressor and condenser of your split system.
  • Prevent drain clogs in your unit by passing a stiff wire through the channels once in a while.
  • Inspect the window seals around your window unit to make sure air is not escaping.
  • Be sure your thermostat is set properly.
  • Make sure the drain isn’t clogged and that the filter isn’t dirty.

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thermostats

Thermostats

By | Commercial, Cooling, Heating, Home Monitoring, Residential, Thermostats

In 2018 the Miami Valley probably used their heating and cooling systems a lot. According to Wunderground, we had 178 days with temperature highs below 60° Fahrenheit, and 108 days with temperature highs over 80° F. That means that for most people they could have their HVAC systems on over 75% of the time. It could be argued that the single, most important part, of any heating and cooling system is the control that operates the system. A low voltage thermostat is the main control for your building that determines how much heating or cooling will be delivered to satisfy the temperature set on the thermostat. Thermostats have advanced a long way in the past 10-20 years as much technology has. The focus for updating thermostats has been on energy savings, cleaner air, comfort, simplicity, quality, accessibility, and easy to understand information among other issues all related to customer satisfaction. Modern thermostats have a lot of features to appeal to everyone, from simple to read displays to utility savings a modern thermostat is an easy upgrade to add to your system to start saving money for years to come. According to First Energy, based on typical energy costs, a smart thermostat can save up to $145 a year. Models rated for Energy Star compliance offer rebates from utility companies as well.

How it Works

Whether a low voltage thermostat is old or new, the way it works is pretty similar even if the parts inside are not. A part of the thermostat is a way to measure the current temperature in the area it is installed, older models had bimetallic strips, while modern models use electronic controls to sense temperature changes. When the strip or thermistor registers a temperature below or above the set temperature it triggers the heating or cooling unit to turn on to maintain the temperature set. Programmable thermostats allow the user to preset temperatures, allowing them to change according to the owner’s programmed settings. Some of those programmed settings examples could be temperature set points at night, work, and vacations. Wi-Fi enabled thermostats allow the owner to check on their system wherever and whenever they like, assuming they have Wi-Fi and/or cellular service. Other features such as maintenance reminders, humidity level display, weather forecasts, energy reporting, zoning compatible, wireless room sensors, smart recovery, AC overcool to dehumidify, service alerts, and more can be found on certain thermostats.

Types

  • Non-Programmable – Non-Programmable thermostats can be mechanical or digital. To adjust the temperature or change from heating to cooling the owner would walk directly to the thermostat to make changes.
  • Programmable – Programmable thermostat come in a variety of programming options, some models makes changes for a week, some for weekdays and weekends, and some models offer more in-depth programmable options including each individual day. Once the thermostat is programmed the idea is that the owner would set up the thermostat according to their own comfort level and the thermostat would adjust on its own as needed, to the schedule you have programmed.
  • Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi thermostats or smart thermostats give the owner the option to not only program the thermostat but to have it adjust to you as well. With features like room sensors, occupancy sensor, and learning technology. These thermostats can adjust to your schedule inside the building. Some models can even change from heating to cooling or vice versa when needed to maintain the set temperature on the thermostat. These models can give even more features to the owner such as enhanced fan control, IAQ integration, weather forecasts, maintenance reminders, smart home/away, and more. A few of these models qualify for utility company rebates.
  • Communicating Controller – Available with variable speed equipment, communicating controllers allow the owner to be the most comfortable. With longer heating and cooling cycles at lower fan speeds, the air is better treated to ensure the best air quality and comfort possible. Other features include energy tracking and reporting, better humidity control, better dehumidification control, and multi-zone compatibility. These models can even alert Hauck Bros. of a major service issue as it happens so we can assist you as quickly as possible.

Comfort

Comfort starts with the thermostat and is backed up by the equipment and Indoor air quality products that maintain your personal comfort level. The thermostat is the control of comfort for your home or business. Depending on the model, the thermostat can save money via programming, provide ease of access with Wi-Fi, send reminders for maintenance alerts, learn to adjust to your comfort level on your schedule, manage humidity levels, and much more.

Features

  • AC Overcool, uses the condensing unit to reduce humidity by cooling your building beyond the desired temperature until the desired humidity level is reached in your home or business.
  • Auto change, also called Auto Mode, Allows the thermostat to switch from Heat to Cool or Cool to Heat automatically.
  • C-Wire, “Common” wire, enables 24 VAC power to the thermostat continuously.
  • Dual Fuel Capable, when a gas furnace and Heat Pump are used in a building. Allows the furnace to take over heating when the heat pump is inefficient.
  • Energy Star Qualified, required to work as a basic thermostat if on-line service is lost, provide information about HVAC energy usage, give residents feedback about energy consequences of changing settings, and provide the owner the ability to schedule or program. By adjusting the temperature down or up by 7-10 degrees from the normal setting owners can save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs.
  • Enhanced Fan Control, with a communicating controller, allows the user to adjust the continuous fan speed to low, medium, high, or off.
  • Thermostat Occupancy Sensor, indoor motion detecting sensor that can detect the presence of a person to automatically control the thermostat to adjust to a temperature preset setting.
  • Outdoor Air temperature Sensor, on select models of thermostats and zoning systems, provides outdoor air temperature information for the control system and the owner as well.
  • Thermostat Maintenance Reminder, certain models will remind owners to change the filter, ultraviolet light bulb, humidifier pad, and even the ventilator pre-filter
  • Thermostat Password Protection, certain models allow the owner to lockout the control by programming a password to prevent changes.
  • Programmable Thermostat, allows the user to schedule the thermostat to maximize home comfort and save money on utilities.
  • Self-Programming Thermostat, certain models learn what temperature you like and adjusts the schedule automatically
  • Service Safety Alerts, depending on the model some thermostats have the ability to notify you via your smart device, e-mail, and even send out an alert to your HVAC service provider when your HVAC system might be having an issue. Some examples of alerts are too high of humidity in the building, HVAC system not operational, and too high or too low of a temperature
  • Smart Home / Away, some models of thermostats have an occupancy sensor that detects when someone is home or not. These models have the ability to go into energy saving mode when you are away or to override the energy saving mode to ensure your comfort is met when you are home, regardless of the programming.
  • Smart Recovery, depending on the thermostat, some models have the ability to start cooling or heating your building so that at the time set for a certain temperature set point the temperature will already be at the set point.
  • Smart Speaker Compatible Thermostat, certain models of thermostats have the ability to be connected to your home automation provider. This allows the owner with proper registration to control the thermostat by voice or within that providers app.
  • Staging Settings, with multi speed HVAC equipment, having the proper thermostat to control the which stage the equipment is necessary. This allows the equipment to run in the lower stage or stages before going into higher stages.
  • Touchscreen, with technology improvements in thermostats, most modern digital thermostats come with a touchscreen, similar to that of a smart device.
  • Wi-Fi, A lot of modern thermostats have Wi-Fi capability. Wi-Fi allows the owner to control the thermostat from their smart device or within an app, keep the thermostat updated and secure, and help on energy savings.

 

Efficiency

Using a programmable thermostat in your building will let you run a scheduled heating and cooling program without having to manually adjust the settings throughout the day. Depending on the thermostat setting up a program can be done on the thermostat and if the thermostat is connected to an app or a smart device, it can be done on the computer or smart device. Adjusting the program to lower or allowing the temperature to rise by 7-10 degrees can save up to 10% in utility costs.

DIY

Make sure to check your thermostat once a year to ensure (depending on the model) that it is level, batteries are replaced (if applicable), and clear of dust and debris. It’s always a good idea to test the heating and cooling equipment before their season to ensure the thermostat is operational and the equipment responds as well. Some models with automatic reminders set up will need the reminders reset ex. change air filter or humidifier pad.

Service or Replace

The thermostat should be maintained and checked once a year, if it has no power, doesn’t respond to settings changes, heating or cooling won’t turn on, or loses its programming it might be time to consider a replacement. If your system is being replaced and it was over 15 years old and you would like to take advantage of the energy efficiency of a modern thermostat, replacement should be considered. Even if you have a programmable thermostat but you want the benefits of the features modern thermostats offer, consider replacement.

Accessories

  • Backplate, in some cases new thermostats are smaller than old thermostats, these backplates are needed to cover the space used by the old thermostat for cosmetic appeal.
  • Thermostat Cover, in some buildings commercial and residential, the thermostat needs to be protected and secured to limit access. A cover goes over the thermostat while providing airflow to the unit to ensure proper temperature control.
  • Room Sensor, some models of thermostats have the ability to have a wired or wireless room sensors connected to it. This allows for the user to adjust temperature based not only on the main thermostat but with input from the sensor as well. The most common options for sensors within the thermostat are to average the two or more temperature readings, use the sensor as the main temperature set point, and to follow the sensor wherever it is moved in the house to maintain the set point.
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