Air Conditioning 101: How Does an AC Thermostat Work?

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Heating and cooling systems have provided comfort to generations of households, offices, and commercial spaces as they regulate the room temperature to a suitable degree. Both a heating system and a cooling system rely on thermostats to set the air temperature at a comfortable level, as these control the air conditioning system.

What is an AC Thermostat?

In a heating and cooling system, the temperature is set using the thermostat, which works by signaling the unit to produce the desired temperature in the room. The thermostat works with other components in the HVAC system to provide you with cool or warm air, depending on your preferred temperature setting.

Traditional thermostats used to contain mercury, as they worked with a coil and mercury switch to activate the temperature adjustment lever. However, modern thermostats use bimetallic strips to adjust the room temperature, which connect to circuit boards that relay the settings information to the rest of the unit.

The Different Types of an Aircon Thermostat

An air conditioning unit thermostat usually comes in different types and is usually split into two categories: mechanical and electronic. There is also the programmable type that is usually found in more modern buildings and houses. Here are the differences of each:

1. Mechanical Thermostat

Mechanical thermostats are commonly used and found in different buildings, establishments and hotels. Degrees may be marked in Celsius or Fahrenheit, and can be easily adjusted according to personal preferences.

This type of thermostat doesn't switch on and off at a single temperature. Instead, it is known to cycle between small increments of temperatures on either side of the level that you set. Mechanical thermostats also come at a comparatively lower cost compared to electronic types.

2. Electronic/Digital Thermostat

Electronic thermostats have more accurate temperature control (up to 0.5°C) than mechanical ones. The sensor used for electronic types is usually an NTC thermistor, which features precision readings of the ambient room temperature.

Electronic thermostats often have digital displays — LCD or LED — which include the set temperature, and even the outdoor temperature levels of a space. A more complex cooling system may show error codes that help the users to determine a problem with the air conditioning unit.

3. Programmable Thermostats

The programmable thermostat is the preferred type among modern houses and establishments. While it possesses the basic features of an electronic thermostat, programmable thermostats have additional features that advance the cooling comfort of the space.

Included among these features is the special function to automate room temperatures throughout the day according to the temperatures outdoors. These thermostats have precision temperature sensor units that help balance the indoor room air, and optimize energy consumption as well. They may also connect with multiple thermostats across different zones.

Diagnosing a Faulty Air Conditioning Thermostat

#1 Unresponsive Thermostat

Thermostats are often sensitive to changes in settings, especially if you have a programmable or digital thermostat. If you find that your thermostat isn’t being responsive to taps or clicks, then it might be in need of a proper fix. The thermostat may have weak connections to its circuit, but it may also be in need of fresh batteries.

Try changing the batteries of your thermostat first, and see if that fixes the problem. If not, check the LED screen for any error codes that may pop up, and cross-reference the code with your owner's manual to troubleshoot it. If all else fails, our technicians at Luce Aircon will be glad to find and fix the problem for you!

#2 Air Conditioner Won't Cool or Heat

Is your aircon having difficulty cooling or heating the room? You might be dealing with a faulty aircon thermostat. To troubleshoot the issue, try switching your thermostat on and off. But if this still doesn’t do the trick, consider calling an air conditioner expert to help you diagnose and fix the issue right away.

#3 Inconsistent Temperatures in HVAC System

Another tell-tale sign of a faulty aircon thermostat is an AC unit that stops midway in cooling or heating a room. Your AC unit may power on and off in short intervals, in what is called short cycling. This may be due to your thermostat sending wrong signals to the unit.

If you’re dealing with this problem, you'll need to schedule a repair and maintenance appointment with a service provider to prevent further damage in the thermostat or unit. Our technicians at Luce Aircon will be glad to assist you with any air conditioning problems!

The Quick Fix

Can't make heads or tails of your air conditioner? Our technicians at Luce Aircon can help you! Thermostats are complex, and work using toxic mercury, electrical circuit, or wired programming that may be difficult for the average homeowner to work with. Our technicians are specialized in diagnosing and repairing thermostat problems, so we can tackle the work!

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