I once walked into a bank and saw a giant ventilation system standing at the corner of the customer care office. If it weren’t for the vents and spinning blade, I would have mistaken it for a new water dispenser technology or some kind of refrigerator. After sitting a few feet away from the machine, I realized it was producing cool air. “Aha! Another type of AC?” I thought. Little did I know, there are two “AC” types. One is called an “air conditioner,” while the other is an “air cooler.” This article will explore the differences between the two air ventilation systems.
What is Air Conditioner?
The air conditioner is the most popular indoor cooling system and has been around for a long time. The basic operating principle of the air conditioner is; that it cools the air inside a room by removing heat and humidity from the air. To do this, the air conditioner uses three parts: a refrigerant, a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil. Here is how the air conditioner works. It is outlined in simple steps.
- When you turn on the air conditioner, the compressor raises the temperature and pressure of the refrigerant (a gas that liquefies under pressure).
- The refrigerant, now under pressure, travels to the condenser coil.
- In the condenser coil, the refrigerant is liquified.
- The liquified refrigerant now travels to the evaporator coil. In this compartment, the evaporator coil causes the refrigerant to evaporate.
- While this happens, a fan sucks in air from the room and takes it through the evaporator coil.
- The heat from the air is absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator coil.
- The air, now cool, is then blown back into the room.
- The room gradually loses temperature as the cycle continues.
What is Air Cooler?
An air cooler is another device we use to cool an enclosed space. The air cooler is not as complex as the air conditioner. The air cooler consists of two functional parts: the fan and a water pump. The air cooler, like the air conditioner, takes air from the room, but instead of the evaporating coil, it blasts it through a water pad, which cools the air. The air is then sent out, and the process continues. Unlike the air conditioner, the air cooler adds humidity to the air and cannot produce hot air. So it’s a one-way machine built with simplicity and portability in mind. One advantage of the cooler is that you don’t need a professional to set it up, just plug it into the electric sockets, and voila.
The Differences Between Air Conditioners & Air Coolers
At first glance, the air conditioner and air cooler can be differentiated based on their design and mode of operation.
We already made some mention of this in the intros above. The air conditioner and the air cooler are two distinct machines with the same purpose. The air conditioner is very complex, consisting of several functional parts that all play a significant role in the process of cool air or hot air production. Heating the air is something the air cooler is incapable of. This is due to the difference in operating principle and design.
The air conditioner comprises three important parts, the compressor, a refrigerant, and an evaporator coil. There are more parts besides this, though, Other parts include:
- A thermostat measures the temperature and regulates how the system works.
- The fan is made up of two kinds. The outdoor fan is mounted alongside the compressor and the condenser coil.
- The cooper tubing allows the refrigerant to flow between the outdoor and indoor units.
The air cooler, on the other hand, is a very simple device. The system is composed mainly of; the fan, which sucks air into the machine, and the water pump, which pumps water into the water pad.
#2 Source of Air
The air conditioner uses two sources of air. Now, note that the air conditioner consists of two main parts. The first part is the indoor, or cold side, of the system. This side of the air conditioner takes air from the home and blasts it over the evaporator coil, also mounted indoors. The second air source is from the outdoor or hot-side o the air conditioner.
The outdoor side of the air conditioner is a compartment that houses the compressor and refrigerant gas. The refrigerant gas leaves the indoor side and travels back to the outdoor side. Here, air from outside the house is used to cool the refrigerant gas, thereby taking away the heat from the house. The process continues until the house has reached a set temperature.
The air cooler only takes air from the indoor side of the house. It is a one-compartment machine. So air from inside the house is cooled and sent back into the house. This limits the effectiveness of the air cooler, but that is where the budget cut comes from.
#3 Quality of Air produced
How healthy is the air produced by both machines? The air cooler has an advantage over the air conditioner regarding the quality of the air they deliver. For the air conditioner to work correctly, you would need to shut all your doors and windows so that air from outside doesn’t come in. Air conditioners work by taking the same air and cooling it repeatedly.
On the other hand, air coolers don’t require you to close all doors and windows. This is due to the operating principle of the machine. The air cooler doesn’t suck air from your room to cool it; instead, it cools the surrounding air and blasts it outwards into the room. So leaving your windows open doesn’t affect the operation of the air cooler. In fact, the air cooler might perform even better when it doesn’t have to spend so much time cooling the air around it.
#4 Energy Cost
The amount of energy consumed by both machines varies tremendously, with the air conditioner being the heavyweight champion, consuming more than 10 times the energy of the air cooler. Since the air conditioner operates on such a complex process, it uses a lot of energy.
The air conditioner has to use energy to pressurize the refrigerant, transport it, and cool it. It also has two sets of fans, which also take lots of energy. The air cooler, on the other hand, utilizes very little energy. It pumps water from the water tank to the water pads. The cooling of air is totally dependent on the natural process of evaporation. As the hot air loses its heat to the cool water, as the water evaporates, it absorbs more heat from the air. This is the same principle the human body uses when it sweats.
To sum it up, the air conditioner uses more energy and might be considered not environmentally friendly.
#5 Cost of Running
From this point, you can guess which machine would be more expensive. Of course, the one with more complexity requires more energy to run and has heavier and larger parts. The air conditioner wins this round. Not only does it cost a lot to keep it on for long hours, but it also costs a lot to maintain it. Remember, it is made up of many components that may wear off over time. Replacing them costs a lot too. You would need a professional to help you mount the air conditioner too. That is some more cost.
The air cooler doesn’t run on refrigerant gas, which alone cuts down the cost of running the air cooler. It doesn’t have so many parts and does not need to transport any liquid to-and-fro. The air cooler is the best buy if you want to save money.
#6 Health Implications
The air cooler doesn’t constantly re-use the same air. Unlike the air conditioner that recycles the same air to function correctly, the air cooler can work outdoors. Another feature of the air conditioner is that it dries the air. This could prove unhealthy for your skin and lungs over time. It all depends on how you use them, though.
The air conditioner would be a bad option for folks with allergies or asthma. Since the air is getting thinner and thinner, it could trigger an asthma attack, or in the case of allergies, it would circulate the allergen throughout the room like a ceiling fan would do.
Whereas the air cooler humidifies the room, this makes the air heavy, thus making it difficult for pollen to float around.
#7 Doors and windows
For the air conditioner to function optimally, you would need to shut all doors and windows. Leaving them open would negate the cooling effect of the air conditioner. Why? Because the air conditioner works by cooling the air already in the room over and over again. If you open your windows, new air is brought into the room, and the cool air loses its coolness to the new air. This can cause the air conditioner to heat up pretty quickly and can damage important components like the compressor.
The air cooler, on the other hand, can do very well in open window conditions. Since the air cooler doesn’t rely on repeatedly cooling the air in the room, it would cool the new air. It may even function better if put beside a window. This would reduce the work of the water pads in cooling the air and also help the fan disperse the cold air.
#8 Optimum Operating Environments
The operating principles of both cooling systems are affected by the surrounding weather conditions and environment. For instance, the air cooler would not work so well when the air is already humid, as there would be very little temperature difference between the water pad and the surrounding air. The air conditioner is more flexible in this aspect and can do well in most environments.
In humid environments, the air conditioner would function better and would be the preferred option, whereas the air cooler works best in dry environments. On a global scale, the cumulative effect of air conditioners in a city makes the city even hotter. Remember, the air conditioner takes heat from indoor air and sends it out to outdoors. This is why the air conditioner is hot on the outside. It’s heating up the environment.
#9 Effects on the Environment
Air coolers and air conditioners work on electricity, but the air conditioners consume more electricity than the air coolers. The design of the air conditioner directly impacts global warming negatively. According to some studies, air conditioners would be responsible for 0.5% of the global warming effect. On the one hand, it uses chemicals that are emitted into the environment over time. S the overall usage of Air conditioners increases, it is expected that the air conditioning would have a tremendous impact on the rising temperatures of the earth.
Another way that air conditioning indirectly impacts global warming is the amount of electricity it uses. Unlike air coolers, air conditioners use a lot of electricity produced by fossil fuels and emit carbon dioxide as they burn. People in hotter climates leave their air conditioners on throughout the day. Imagine how much electricity is being used for that.
By now, you have probably guessed which of the cooling systems cost more money to purchase. Well, you guessed it right, the air conditioners. Air conditioners are made up of several complicated parts, which are quite expensive on their own.
The average cost of an air cooler is about 10 times less expensive than an air conditioner. You might then wonder why most people use air conditioners? Well, air conditioners are very old technology. People are now becoming aware of air coolers as a cheaper or more viable alternative.
So, after discovering the differences between the air cooler and the air conditioner, you will be guided to make a better purchase on your next purchase. The air conditioner may have some advantages if you live in a big hall or a humid and hot environment. The air cooler would serve the purpose if you’re living in an average-sized room or office. The drawback to using the air cooler is that you’d have to refill it with water or ice frequently. I hope you enjoyed reading it.