Dealing With Furnace Problems

Dealing With Furnace Problems

2 Up-and-Coming Air Conditioning Features That Could Prevent Problems

by Eliza Chapman

Wouldn't it be nice if air conditioners were to evolve into ultra-efficient, problem-solving machines? Although it might seem like an idea straight out of a science-fiction novel, some manufacturers are experimenting with components capable of resolving age-old HVAC issues. Here are two up-and-coming air conditioning features that could prevent common problems so that you don't have to spend as much time troubleshooting your air conditioner:

1: Antimicrobial Copper Components

Copper might just seem like another metal, but believe it or not, it is capable of destroying invisible pathogens. Copper surfaces interact with bacteria to puncture their cell membranes. After the cell membranes of bacteria are permeated, the pathogens lose vital nutrients and moisture. This interaction significantly weakens bacteria on contact and then slowly dries out the pathogens until they die off altogether. To harness this powerful interaction, some HVAC manufacturers have started to create air conditioners with copper coils.

In addition to destroying bacteria, these copper air conditioners also offer these benefits:

  • Air Quality: Because copper air conditioners destroy microscopic pathogens, they have been found to improve air quality dramatically. In fact, one study showed that after 24 hours, researchers witnessed total die-off of common mold species. In addition to aiding allergy sufferers, this self-sanitation might also make the air in your home smell cleaner and fresher, since mold and mildew commonly emit stinky volatile organic compounds.
  • Efficiency: When mold and bacteria don't have the chance to collect, breed, and multiply inside copper air conditioners, the filters stay cleaner, which improves the efficiency of the entire system. In fact, one copper air conditioner was shown to be 56% more efficient than similar noncopper varieties.
  • Smaller Systems: Copper tubing is also more efficient, which means that manufacturers can create air conditioners that are smaller—without sacrificing functionality. For example, since surface-to-volume ratios increase when the size of copper tubes decrease, air conditioners are more efficient and can be housed in smaller units outdoors. This makes them perfect for compact apartment complexes or homeowners with small yards.   

If you are interested in a highly efficient, self-sanitizing copper air conditioner, keep in mind that your system might be pricier than its aluminum-and-steel counterpart. Because copper itself is a highly sought-after element, the units cost more to produce. However, because copper HVAC systems are so much more efficient, your new unit might save you money in the long run.

2: Solid State Refrigerants

As soon as scientific studies showed that the common R-22 refrigerant used in air conditioners was depleting the ozone layer, manufacturers started to shy away from this refrigerant. In fact, while the EPA banned the sale of air conditioners that used R-22 as early as 2010, the Montreal Protocol has dictated that R-22 usage needs to be 99.5% below the United State's usage baseline by the year 2020. Air conditioners that use R-22 can still be serviced with reclaimed or recycled R-22, but manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce the common refrigerant.

Fortunately, the discovery of the harmful effects of R-22 have prompted many HVAC manufacturers to research better refrigerants. Solid state refrigerants, which are made from smart metals that move and change shape when they absorb or release heat, are highly efficient and environmentally friendly. In fact, solid state cooling technology is capable of increasing energy efficiency by as much as 175%, while at the same time reducing carbon dioxide emissions by a staggering 250 million metric tons a year. To top it off, solid-state refrigerants don't require air conditioners to have as many moving parts, which means that air conditioners won't be as prone to mechanical problems.

If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, talk with an HVAC professional in your area, like one from a company such as HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric, to see if they have access to equipment with either of these technologies. You never know, you might be able to special order a system that will work a little harder so that you don't have to. 


About Me

Dealing With Furnace Problems

A few years ago, I could tell that we were having serious furnace problems. In addition to dealing with a house that was constantly too cold or too warm, we were also plagued by a noisy, smelly furnace that seemed to have trouble on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about furnaces at the time to spot the problems quickly. One day, the entire system died, and it was beyond repair. After having that experience, I learned a lot about HVAC systems, so that I could troubleshoot future systems. This website is all about teaching you what you need to know so that you don't end up in the same situation.