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What is the difference between air conditioning and refrigeration?

November 27th, 2020 by Airedale Cooling

We all know that the principles around air conditioning and refrigeration are very similar; the idea is to keep a space cool using chemicals, compression and airflow. But there are smaller details which separate them as systems.

In this article, Airedale Cooling Services will talk you through the basics of refrigeration, air conditioning and how the two differ from each other. Hopefully, this guide will provide you with insight as to which service you require based on your needs.

air-conditioner

How refrigeration works

Refrigeration is designed to cool an immediate area. It does this by using pipes filled with coolant – usually an F gas – which it forces from a liquid into a gas in order to create the cooling effect inside the fridge or chill room. A compressor then increases the pressure and temperature to turn the gas back into a liquid so that the process can be repeated, but not before putting the coolant through a condenser. The coolant constantly flows throughout the maze of tubing to help remove heat and keep temperatures low in a confined space.

How air conditioning works

Air conditioning uses the same principle of using a coolant already built into the system, but it also uses the ambient air in the room as part of the process for heating. Air conditioners, unlike conventional fridges, will have lots of ductwork and fans to push the hot or cold air around a building – and away from the unit – to achieve the right temperature over a much larger space. It removes heat and moisture to create a more comfortable working space when cooling, unlike in refrigeration.

It’s easy to see why people think of these two things as being so similar, but the key differences are:

  • Refrigeration keeps the cold air close, air conditioning pushes it away
  • Refrigeration uses coolant alone, air conditioning also uses the air from outside
  • Refrigeration deals with cooling and freezing, air conditioning deals with cooling and dehumidifying the air

Do I need air conditioning for food storage or cellar space?

A common misconception is that in order to keep food chilled in a cellar or larger space, people think air conditioning is required. This is not true as the purpose of that space is to refrigerate all the food and drink to a much lower temperature at all times. Refrigeration systems work much better for this application – including chill rooms and cold rooms – where people won’t be expected to stay in the space but may come in and out.

The reverse of this is that people might think air conditioning can be used for cooling food. While it’s possible to keep a room cooler than normal, air conditioning is not an appropriate or efficient replacement for refrigeration as you risk compromising the food and drink. Air conditioning removes the moisture and heat from a room and isn’t usually kept on 24/7, something your chilled or frozen goods need without fail.

At Airedale Cooling Services, we offer both commercial refrigeration and air conditioning, so whether you regulate the temperature in your office for your staff or create cold stores and chill rooms for food and drink, our expert engineers can be on hand. We operate throughout Yorkshire – including York, Wakefield and Bradford.

Call us on 0800 998 1311 for a quote, or see our air conditioning and commercial refrigeration service pages for more information.

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