Both air conditioning and refrigeration are means of cooling the air within an environment, but are they the same thing, or are there differences between the two? The answer might surprise you. Although both of these processes come in handy for cooling, more things separate them than similarities. It can be useful to know how air conditioning and refrigeration systems work to cool environments, as they use only a few of the same components and processes to accomplish their intended tasks. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between air conditioning and refrigeration.
Getting down the terminology for air conditioning and refrigeration
According to Vedantu, air conditioning is a term for the process of altering the temperature of air by removing moisture and heat at a molecular level. The term air conditioning is standard for a process that makes the air in a home cooler to make it more comfortable for occupants when the weather is hot outside. Some air conditioners may also be used to cool outdoor areas.
Refrigeration is a term that means to cool. It is a process that uses technology to reduce the internal energy of a thing by removing the heat energy. Refrigeration is accomplished by a device that supplies thermal energy from cold temperatures to high temperatures.
Similarities between Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
Hunker points out that there are similarities between air conditioning and refrigeration that may lead some to believe that they are the same. Both processes use chemicals that are made specifically to run the electric units that produce cooler air. compression is used to expand gases, and convert them to liquid, affecting air temperature, but this is where the similarities end. There are enough differences to distinguish one from the other. The design of the processes and the equipment used for the processes distinguish refrigeration and air conditioning as different.
The differences between air conditioning and refrigeration
Air conditioning takes away thermal energy to cool the air and keep it at a comfortable temperature while refrigeration involves a transfer of thermal energy from the area to be cooled, to another place where the temperature is higher. Other differences are the components used in the processes. Refrigeration is accomplished by a unit that contains a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator. These are all contained in one unit, while the air conditioning uses an evaporator in a separate unit from the condenser and compressor. Refrigeration and air conditioning have different applications. Refrigeration usually involves regulating the temperature of the air to a low temperature that cools or freezes products such as foods and other items. Air conditioning is used for bringing the air temperature n an environment to a set level while maintaining its humidity and the purity of the air. Refrigeration units require a low-pressure chamber that boils HFC gas for vaporization while AC units convert liquid into a gas through an evaporator.
The points of supply
The points of supply for the gases that are used in refrigeration and air conditioning are different. Air conditioning systems use chemicals that are built into the A units or systems, combined with air from the rooms. Gases in the AC units cool air that is circulated through the system. It then redistributes the air that has been cooled throughout the room. It is a continual process of taking in warmer air, cooling it, then circulating it out of the unit. Refrigeration units are made with tubes built into the units. These tubes are filled with a gas called HRC-134. It is a coolant that is used specifically for refrigeration systems.
Differences in air circulation
Air conditioning units are made with systems that circulate the air in a way that sucks in warmer air, then projects cooler air away from the unit. Refrigeration systems are made to keep the cool air confined to a specific area. They circulate gases and cool liquids through the vents and tubes in the system. they use fans to distribute the air, and instead of forcing the cool air out, like an air conditioner, they keep the air in.
Differences in vaporization
Refrigeration and air conditioning units both use the process of vaporization. Each converts liquid to gas to complete its cooling processes, but each system does so in a different way. Air conditioning units convert liquid to gas through an evaporator. The refrigeration system uses a low-pressure chamber to cycle HFC gas through it to be heated to the point of boiling. This is how vaporization occurs in the refrigeration process. While refrigeration requires boiling the gases, air conditioning uses the process of evaporation. Airedale Cooling summarizes the process by pointing out that the differences between air conditioning and refrigeration can be narrowed to two main points. Refrigeration uses only coolant, it keeps the cold air close and it involves cooling and freezing. Air conditioning pushes cooled air out and away, it uses air from outside of the unit, and it involves dehumidifying and cooling the air.
It’s understandable why some people would think that air conditioning and refrigeration are the same things. They both make things colder right? They are similar in some ways, but when you understand the applications and the processes involved with each, it is easy to say that they are completely different in most ways. Refrigeration is generally associated with keeping foods or other perishable items, such as laboratory supplies and biological samples at the recommended temperature. Air conditioning is largely used to cool the environment of a home or building to a comfortable temperature when the temperatures outside are too warm for comfort. Most of us do not need to know these details because we default to the experts for the repair of our refrigeration and air conditioning units, but it’s also good to have a basic knowledge of how these systems work, along with the differences between them.