The history of the Automotive Air Conditioning System

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The history of the automotive air conditioning system

The history of automotive air conditioning started in 1933 in NewYork, when the luxury car manufacturer offered installing an air conditioning unit with a heater. At that time the automobile has to be shipped to their workshop and was shipped back to local vendors after installation. Later in 1953, Chrysler Imperial was the first production car to offer a modern automotive air conditioning system as an option with single switch operation.

By the 20th century, the demand for AC units in cars increased rapidly and now all the manufacturers provide AC units as standard facilities. Initially, its purpose was purely luxury, but now people use it as a safeguard against heat, dust, cold and smoke.

How your car AC works?

The very first thing to understand about a car AC is that a car AC system does not create cold air instead of the system helps to take away the hot air and moisture inside the car cabin leaving behind cold air. Confused, let us have a look at the components and their functionalities in an automotive air conditioning system.

The main components of a car air conditioning system are

  1. Refrigerant
    • The refrigerant fuel/gas is used because of its ability to change its own physical properties on compression and cooling. The most commonly used refrigerant gas is known as Freon or R134A.
  2. Compressor
    • The function of a compressor is to compress the refrigerant gas. Upon the process of compression, the physical state of the gas is converted to high-pressure high-temperature gas and is sent to the next component of the AC system- condenser
  3. Condenser
    • The most commonly used condenser is a long singular tube made of copper, stainless steel or alloys arranged in spiral structure with fins ( You can see the similar structure behind a refrigerator at home.

The condenser is exposed to the outside and a fan will be running to blow air from outside (this air helps to reduce the heat of the refrigerant and is used in cooling down the engine heat) and the refrigerant in the high-temperature gas form changes into high-temperature liquid form at the condenser.

  1. AC receiver drier
    • The receiver container has desiccant (a substance to absorb moisture) and makes the fluid free of moisture.
  2. AC inline filter kit
    • The main purpose of the inline filter is to filter out the debris out of the fluid for the smooth flow and efficient functioning of the system.
  3. Expansion valve
    • The main function of the expansion valve is to convert high-pressure refrigerant fluid to low-pressure fluid.
  4. AC orifice tube
    • The orifice tube is the replacement of the expansion valve in some AC system and the functionality is the same as to change the high-pressure fluid to convert to low-pressure fluid before channelize the fluid to the evaporator core.
  5. Evaporator core
    • As the name says its the core of the car AC system. The low-pressure cold refrigerant fluid is flown through the evaporator core and start absorbing the heat from inside the car cabin. To speed up the process an AC fan is used to blow through the evaporator. During the process, the low-pressure fluid refrigerant absorbs heat and changes the form into a low-pressure gas.
  6. AC Accumulator
    • This system is used in the AC system with orifice instead of the expansion valve. The accumulator has deccicat content to absorb any moisture present in the fluid.

This fluid is again circulated through the compressor and the process continues. For better understanding please check the image with the receiver drier and expansion valve.

 AC system with orifice tube and accumulator

Ac system with expansion valve and receiver drier

The pros and cons of an automotive air conditioning system

In the initial time and till now many have a thought on car AC as a luxury. But considering the climate changes around us, the pollution rate of air and a lot many, it is always advisable to have a car with AC for comfortable driving. Now we can check on some key points about a car AC.

The advantages of the automotive air conditioning system

Prevent dehydration - If we are travelling in a hot and humid condition without AC, the travel will eventually dehydrate and make you exhausted. While with an AC running, we can keep the temperature low and can prevent dehydration.

Quality of air - This is a very important advantage of AC, that it can maintain the quality of air inside the car cabin. When the AC mechanism works it filters out moisture and filter dust and allergic elements from the air we breathe in. Also, we use to keep the glass up when the AC is working and it prevents direct entry of polluted air. And this helps to keep the interior neat and clean.

The efficiency of the car - Many people have the wrong idea that using car AC will reduce the efficiency of the vehicle. It helps the vehicle to run in the optimal condition during long drives. With closed glass, the aero dynamicity of the vehicle will be optimal and thus helps to achieve the best efficiency. It is also true that if the drive is through a city or populated area, we cannot achieve full efficiency in terms of mileage.

Safe drive - While using AC, a lesser sound will be directly affecting inside the car and means fewer distractions. Keeping away possible distractions and keeping the body away from exhaustion, make the drive a safer one.

What are the disadvantages of the automotive air conditioning system

Respiratory issues - It is already stated that AC helps to bring in quality air, but an AC can be a reason for the aggravation of respiratory problems. The respiratory issue happens when there is a sudden temperature change, that is when we came out of the car into the open atmosphere. You may be keeping the AC to the fullest and upon stepping out body is exposed to a high temperature and can cause aggression of breathing problems. The best way to prevent this problem is to take the temperature down and allow the body to adjust.

Allergies - This happens when we forgot to do the proper servicing of car AC. The filters work continuously to keep the quality of intake air and the filters got dirty. If we do not take care of servicing the air coming inside will be having a lot of elements that can trigger allergies. So do the proper maintenance of car AC to avoid such risks.

How to keep the AC function efficiently

Start AC in low mode - Always start the AC in low mode. This will help the system to start functioning smoothly and once set we can change to high mode. This is very efficiently done automatically in many vehicles with an automatic air conditioning system. The system detects temperature and humidity inside the car and adjusts the same to a preset condition. Cars like Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Maruti Suzuki Brezza have automatic climate control system under a budget economy.

Park in shades - Keep the car in shades or under a covered roof while parking. This will help to reduce the heating up of the interior high. If there is no other way than to park in the sun, keep the glasses a little open for fresh air to circulate.

Ventilate first - When taking the car out of the parking, before starting the AC, it is always advisable to ventilate the car. Drive with open glass helps in air circulation through and to reduce the inner heat. This will improve the efficiency to a great extent as the AC has only to work on a better cool environment.

Recirculation mode - Switching off the recirculation mode after reaching the required temperature will reduce the load on AC. By switching off recirculation mode, the system will stop taking air from outside and has to work only on the already cold air inside.

Proper shutdown - The proper method of shutting down your car AC, is to switch off the AC first before turning off the car. And keep the blower run for some more time to filter the moisture and other elements in the present air. This will help to keep the interior out of the foul smell and to keep the AC more efficient.

Proper maintenance - Proper servicing of AC is very important for optimal and efficient functioning. Proper and timely servicing helps to maintain the refrigerant level, filters clean and keeps the system functioning.

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