Do Air Conditioners Work Better in Humidity?


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If you’re like me, summer days are mostly enjoyed indoors where I can stay cool near the air conditioner. But when days are hot and humid, you probably wonder if your air conditioning unit works better because of the heat and moisture.

Air conditioners do not work better in humidity because the higher levels of heat and moisture cause the unit to work harder than usual. However, a dehumidifier can alleviate humidity and help your air conditioner work more efficiently. 

This article will explain how air conditioners work and how the humidity affects your unit’s performance. I will also explain the signs of high levels of humidity in your home.

How Does an Air Conditioning Unit Work?

The process of an air conditioner is actually very interesting and works in a cycle of four parts:

  1. The heat from inside your home is gathered and runs through a refrigerant.
  2. The refrigerant’s temperature is then raised by a compressor.
  3. The heat from the compressor is transferred outside.
  4. The refrigerant’s temperature then cools, and the process restarts. 

In simpler form, the purpose of an air conditioner is to gather the heat and moisture from your home and convert it into cool air. This cycle repeatedly works until your air conditioning system believes all the heat is removed and replaced with cool air. Once your air conditioner believes this cycle has been completed, it typically shuts off on its own.

However, just like a bed can be too big for a room, your air conditioner needs to be sized correctly for your space for it to work at its best.

How to Calculate the Size of Your Room

Calculating your room size requires some math; however, it will help you find a unit that will remove moisture and heat from your room adequately.

The best way to find what air conditioning size works best for your home is to calculate your room’s size or square footage and multiply that size by British Thermal Units or BTU.

Here is a video that shows you how to calculate the BTU of your room properly:

Once you have gathered the BTU that perfectly fits your room, you should be able to find an air conditioning unit that provides the amount of BTU necessary for your living environment.

How Humidity Affects Your Air Conditioning Unit

Previously, we talked about an air conditioner’s purpose and how it’s designed to remove moisture and heat. However, what happens when there is too much moisture and heat – or humidity.

When the room is humid, it requires your air conditioning unit to work harder as more moisture and heat are surrounded and being processed through your unit. 

Typically, your air conditioning unit should be able to remove the humidity and work well with various heat levels. However, some units are either much older and do not have a dehumidifier built within the unit. Some do not have the right capacity to transfer the heat into refrigerated air. There is also a possibility the unit is just not able to cope with the humidity in general.

Let’s think of it as someone carrying a heavier weight than they should at the gym. As you’re lifting a dumbbell that is 30 lbs (16.61 kg) heavier than what your body allows, it starts to put a strain on your muscles. That is the same for an air conditioning unit. 

Once your air conditioning unit starts to strain, it affects your unit’s performance, and your home might start to show high levels of humidity. 

Signs of High Humidity in Your Home

The easiest way to look for high humidity in your home is with a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a meter that detects moisture or water vapor in various things such as the air and soil. The average percentage of humidity in your home should be between 30% and 60%. 

In the summertime, there’s a high chance the humidity in your home can raise over 60%; just like in the winter, your humidity levels can drop below 30%.

Finding high humidity levels in your home can be easy to spot once you know what you are looking for. 

Let’s look deeper into the signs of high humidity and see if you can spot any of them in your home:

Foggy Windows

If you have ever driven in the cold, you’ll realize your windows start to fog due to a mix of the cold air and the warmth of your body temperature. In a high humid home, it’s the same but in the opposite scenario. 

Like we have mentioned previously, humidity is vaporization in the air. 

Moist Air

Due to the humidity, you’ll be able to feel a very moist and clammy feeling in the air. The air might be full of moisture to the point where your skin feels very damp and sticky. If you have ever been outside on a very humid day, you probably know what I mean by damp and sticky skin; however, you would feel that way in your own home in this case.

Unpleasant Odor 

This is probably one of the last signs you will experience. However, an unpleasant odor is a result of neglecting the other two signs. The odor can be caused by various things such as mold or pieces of your home breaking down due to the moisture. This is not only a nasty stench, but it is also very bad for your health. 

Fortunately, if you can distinguish any of these signs in your home early, you’ll be able to resolve them easily. 

Dehumidifiers

A dehumidifier is an appliance that gathers moisture from the air for numerous reasons such as health, high humidity, and smells.

These days humidifiers are typically built into your air conditioning units. But there will be an occasion where you’re given an older unit without one built into it, or your unit doesn’t work as it should. 

In these instances, you can purchase a dehumidifier on its own, which will help lower your home’s moisture levels. 

If you are looking into a single dehumidifier, I would highly recommend looking into the Waykar 40 Pint Dehumidifier as it has good reviews and a high rating. It is a modern designed dehumidifier that can remove 5 gallons (40 pints) of moisture a day. It is easy to use and automatically shuts off when the humidity levels are at your desired percentage.

Purchasing a dehumidifier to work alongside your air conditioner would take off some strain from your unit; however, it would definitely be more costly as you’d now be using double the appliances as you should be.

Final Thoughts

Air conditioners would have to work much harder in the humidity, which would put a strain on the unit and affect the performance of the unit overall. Although air conditioners do not work better in the humidity, you consider certain things to help its performance.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • An air conditioner that is perfect for your room size
  • Dehumidifier – whether its a single unit or one attached to your air conditioner

If those two things are considered, it will alleviate the strain and help the utility work a little better.

Jake Alexander

Jake is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who enjoys writing about science and sports. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he can be found watching the NFL or playing basketball with his friends.

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