Today, air-conditioning aids are part of the standard equipment of a vehicle. There is both air conditioning, which the driver has to set himself, as well as systems that automatically regulate the climate in the vehicle interior as soon as it deviates from the temperature and humidity desired by the driver. An air-conditioning system can be very beneficial – for example, on a long trip in the summer heat. Apart from the fact that cool air has a positive effect on the driver’s ability to concentrate, there are, however, a number of things that should be borne in mind when operating an air-conditioning system – because excessive temperature fluctuations can lead to a cold. Interesting facts about air conditioning and other air conditioning systems in the car you can read in our article.
The air conditioning system in the car
Sitting in a car for a long time in the summer, especially when the outside temperature is far above your personal comfort temperature, is not only exhausting, but can also be dangerous – the keyword is heat stroke. Fortunately, the U.S. engineer W. H. Carrier over 100 years ago the modern air conditioner, which was installed in vehicles a few decades later by the automobile manufacturers nash motors and studebaker corporation. Over the years, the air conditioning evolved, but essentially unchanged. In principle, an air conditioning system serves to bring a comfortable temperature and humidity in the interior of a vehicle and to maintain it. In winter, for example, thanks to the air conditioning preventing the windows from fogging up and thus contributing to traffic safety. Finally, visibility is severely restricted by fogged windows. Roughly, the system works as follows: is the air conditioning switched on, outside air is drawn in, filtered and mixed with the inside air, and if necessary still cooled or heated. If a system cannot actively cool, the term air conditioning does not apply. Then it is a matter of heating.
air conditioning and automatic air conditioning: differences
Now, in addition to the air conditioning, the automatic air conditioning established. Unlike air conditioning, automatic climate control regulates itself whether the temperature needs to be adjusted up or down. Sensors installed throughout the vehicle’s interior are responsible for this decision. So you don’t have to keep regulating it yourself to achieve or maintain the desired climate – a clear advantage of the automatic system. The air conditioning only cools or warms on one stage and the regulation of the strength of the blower is also limited. The automatic climate control, on the other hand, regulates flexibly or not as restricted as the air conditioning system. There are also differences in the airflow of the two air-conditioning systems. This is how the air flow in a vehicle with air conditioning comes out of the openings on the dashboard provided for this purpose. This leads to (who does not know it?) that the air is blown directly into the face of the driver and/or passenger. Depending on the temperature and intensity, this is rather unpleasant. The airflow or intensity of an automatic air conditioning system can be adjusted according to preference. Since the air vents are installed almost everywhere in the vehicle interior, you can also use them to warm your feet in the cold season.
A special variant of the self-regulating air-conditioning system is the multi-zone air-conditioning system-automatic air conditioning. Here, the driver can divide the vehicle interior into different climate zones, for example so that it is somewhat cooler in the rear than in the front – although this model is not very widespread. In most cases, the passenger can also set a separate temperature for his or her seat and the passenger side.
Increased consumption and costs due to air conditioning systems?
To air-condition the vehicle interior, either fuel or, in the case of electric cars, electricity is consumed. Automatic air conditioning is considered much more economical than air conditioning because the automatic air conditioning or compressor only works when it measures a difference between the desired and the actual temperature inside the vehicle. If the temperature is constant, it switches off – saving energy. The air conditioning, on the other hand, runs constantly at the set level when switched on, so that over time the temperature becomes too high (or too low) and you are forced to correct the air flow manually using a rotary switch.
Additional consumption due to air conditioning systems
The ADAC has a comparison of the extra fuel consumption of manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic systems air conditioners set up – concretely measured the additional consumption with activated and deactivated systems. The test vehicle was a skoda octavia 1.6. The results of the test were that (,)
- Fully automatic air conditioners consume the least fuel. Best to leave the system in "auto" mode. According to the ADAC, this only adds 5 percent to 6 percent to the fuel bill. A setting of 21°C to 23°C is recommended, depending on the outside temperature.
- Since semi-automatic systems require manual adjustment of the blower, fuel consumption is somewhat higher than with fully automatic systems, but the purchase cost is lower.
- Manual air-conditioning systems consume above-average amounts of fuel in city traffic and when idling. Less outside the city. In addition, the ease of use is not as high as with the other two systems.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the cost of an air conditioning system. The additional costs always depend on factors such as the vehicle model and the associated interior size, the equipment, the desired comfort temperature and also the model of the air-conditioning system or compressor.
E-cars lose range when air conditioning is activated
How does consumption by the air conditioning system affect range, especially in winter?? Here, too, the ADAC has carried out a test. The conclusion was that in city traffic (30 to 50 km/h) at 0°C, there is a loss of range of up to 50 percent – compared to summer temperatures of 20°C. Out of town (100 km/h), the loss in range is around 10 percent.
Additional costs due to air conditioning systems
The cost of the power required for an air-conditioning system to air-condition the vehicle’s interior has been reduced over the years as systems have evolved. On average and across all systems, the additional consumption and the associated additional costs amount to around 10 percent to 15 percent. In the city, a fuel surcharge of about 20 percent (0.54 liters/100 kilometers) must be added, and outside the city, a fuel surcharge of about 6 percent (average speed of 100 km/h) must be added. The highest percentage consumption was measured with 70 percent tank surcharge (0.4 liter per hour) at idle speed.
Set the air conditioner correctly and save fuel
Before you set off, there are a few things you can do to take some of the workload off the air conditioning system – saving you additional money:
- Ventilate the vehicle well by opening the doors and, if necessary, the sunroof for a few minutes.
- Take advantage of the shading on glass roofs.
- open all air vents and adjust them so that the air is blown over the shoulders of the people sitting in front as much as possible.
- Do not set the system too cool, as you can easily become tense and catch a cold from the cold air, especially if the outside temperature is very different from the inside temperature. An average temperature perceived as optimal is between 21°C and 23°C.
- Switch off the cooling system shortly before the end of your journey, but do not switch off the fan. This prevents the buildup of residual moisture in the ventilation system. This could otherwise lead to mold growth.
- For fast cooling set the heating temperature controller to "cold", turn on the blower to the highest level.
- Once a comfortable interior temperature has been reached, use cooling in selective operation if possible (only switch on when cooling power is actually required).
- Gradually turn down the blower.
- The effect of the air conditioning system can be improved by using recirculating air. To avoid oxygen deficiency, it is essential to follow the vehicle’s operating instructions.
- Individual temperature preselection.
- Turn on the blower to the highest setting.
- gradually reset the blower.
- To reduce the additional fuel consumption caused by air conditioning systems, only switch on the cooling system when cooling of the interior temperature is desired. The air-conditioning compressor is only switched off automatically when the outside temperature falls below 3 to 6°C.
- If fogging of the windows cannot be prevented by a higher blower level in the event of high humidity, switch on cooling mode to dry the air.
- the effect of the air conditioning system can be improved by using recirculating air. To avoid oxygen deficiency, it is essential to follow the operating instructions for the vehicle.
- Preselect individual temperature and select automatic program for air distribution and fan strength.
- To reduce the additional fuel consumption caused by air conditioning, only switch on the cooling system when the interior temperature needs to be cooled down. Do not start the machine until the outside temperature has reached approx. 3-5°C, the air conditioning compressor is automatically switched off.
- If a higher fan speed cannot prevent the windows from fogging up when the air humidity is high, switch on cooling mode to dry the air.
Conclusion: benefits as well as maintenance and care of the air conditioning system
An air conditioning system is a sensible investment and not an unnecessary gadget in the vehicle, as the following benefits show:
turn on the air conditioning in any case so that you do not come into contact with pollen outside the vehicle. These are filtered out of the air thanks to the pollen filter. If no such cabin filter is available, this can be easily retrofitted as a rule. Please note, however, that air that is too cold compared to the outside temperature can lead to a chill.
- Cool air has a positive effect on the concentration of the driver. Heat increases the risk of becoming unfocused by 63 percent, which in turn significantly increases the risk of accidents.
- Retrofitting an air conditioning system is very time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, when selling a used car, it is a strong selling point if a system is already in place.
Have your air conditioner serviced regularly, as the humidity in the air can cause mold to form in the vehicle interior. This may not only cause bad smells, but also allergies. In addition, the cooling substance evaporates over the years, reducing the cooling capacity. You can refill the cooling substance in ADAC test centers and also have the system disinfected there. In autumn, it is advisable to switch on the air conditioning system once every two to three weeks for about 10 to 15 minutes in order to wash off possible contaminants from the condensation water. Please also note our above mentioned tips for the correct handling of the different air conditioning systems – such as switching off the cooling, but not the fan, shortly before the end of the journey to prevent residual humidity, then you will enjoy your air conditioning system for a long time.