Air conditioning in a car is what keeps the driver and passengers at a comfortable temperature. We’ve come a long way from when airconditioning involved just opening and closing the windows to let in some fresh air. Even the most primitive air-conditioning systems involve a heater, which takes heat from off the engine and pipes it into the cabin, with the driver and occupants being able to direct the hot air by means of vents to heads, feet or the windscreen in order to heat the glass and demist it. These basic air conditioning systems also allow cool air from outside the car to flow into the cabin to cool it, using fans. These basic A/C systems also have a “recirculate” feature that allows the air intake to the cabin to be shut off from the outside if the external air is dusty or smoky. More sophisticated air-con systems cool the air before allowing it to be passed into the cabin – an invaluable feature during long summer journeys when the air outside the cabin is hot and humid.
The most modern air conditioning systems often are referred to as “climate control” systems. These are often controlled electronically. The driver selects his/her preferred cabin temperature, and the A/C system uses both heating and cooling to maintain the cabin at this temperature. These air-conditioning systems often also include a sensor/thermometer to gauge the outside temperature. And these electronic A/C systems can be refined even further: “dual zone climate control” allows the front passenger and the driver to select their preferred temperature (good if he likes it hot and she likes it cold) and the air-con system will do its thing. And “tri-zone climate control” allows separate temperatures to be selected for driver, front passenger and rear seats. Other aircon systems include filters for pollen or particulates, making the air inside the cabin easy to breathe, a real bonus if you suffer from hay fever.
An air conditioning system that takes the heat off the engine can be useful if the engine is beginning to overheat. In this case, turn the heater up to full blast and open all the windows, thus allowing the A/C system to take the heat away from the engine and prevent it overheating. This use of the air-con system is a temporary measure only, but it works so you can limp to the mechanics to deal with the problem.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is Air Conditioning?’!
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