On hot summer days, we always try to use different cooling methods. Obviously, the handiest and most used in the car is starting the air conditioner. But some cars have no AC at all, quite a few, but also some cars have manual air conditioning or automatic climate. Of these cooling methods, which is the most efficient?
How does manual air conditioning work?
A manual air conditioning system consists of several elements: compressor, pipes, freon radiator, condenser, and filtration unit. But the operating principle is relatively simple, as I explained in the article on air conditioning.
It is worth remembering that in the case of a manually controlled air conditioning installation, ie the famous 3-wheel panel and a small button on which the snowflake is drawn, the cold air in the passenger compartment comes after it is pulled from the outside and passed through the car cooling radiator.
The way the outside air is cooled before entering the cabin is the same as with the automatic installations. From the wheels of the air conditioning system manually we can adjust the direction from which the air blows (front, feet, windscreen), we can adjust the temperature and intensity. In fact, if we think better, a manual air conditioner does the same thing as an automatic one, right?
What does the automatic climate control system have in addition?
An automatic or digital climate system is much more complex. Even if the elements that make the air cool are the same, ie we have all the compressor, radiator, condenser, and so on, we have to deal with a completely different control unit hidden in the board.
Not for nothing is called automatically, because all these new functions cause the interior temperature to be set and adjusted automatically, without the driver’s intervention. So, in addition to a manual AC, it’s just the onboard unit, nothing more. But this does a lot of new things …
Automatic air direction adjustments
If in a manual AC we change the direction from which the air blows directly from the wheel which is connected by some cables and levers to the small doors that control the air directions, in the case of an automatic system all these adjustments are made either electronically, moved by small motorized ones, either vacuum or pneumatic.
So, the direction of the air is given by some small doors connected by a complex system, electrically operated. Also, if in a manual AC you can not let the air come from all directions, in an automatic climate you can do it, because each position, windshield, front, feet, is individually adjusted, not by a single wheel connected directly.
In general, a manual air conditioner has only 4 speeds of air plus the OFF position. In contrast, the automatic climate has much more speeds, between 6 and 12 in general, but it can be, in luxury premium cars, even regulated on a scale from 1 to 50.
That’s because the air motor does not operate based on a 4-position resistor but is a step-by-step type and can operate at any speed. This is not necessarily an advantage, because we have to be serious: why do we need more than 4 stages of intensity? 🙂
Set the desired temperature
In the case of climate control, you also have a digital display that shows you some information, such as airspeed, direction, and temperature.
If you have a blue and red wheel on a manual AC, if you give the blue as much as possible the chill, the automatic system has “fine settings”.
That means you can set the temperature manually, from 16 to 28 degrees C in general, either from degree to degree C or even to a half-degree C. But that does not mean that if you set the temperature to 18 degrees C, the car will have exactly 18 degrees C … This is only valid if you leave the climate in AUTO mode.
Allow the system to adjust the temperature
The main advantage of automatic climate control, as the name says, is that the installation can adjust the only temperature set by the driver. If you do not use the climate in AUTO mode, then you can, as well, have AC manually.
But if you use the AUTO mode, you have some advantages. First of all, the car manufacturer advises you to set the climate on AUTO and leave the AC on permanently, either in winter or in summer, and the system does its job and sets the temperature in the cabin according to the driver’s wish.
An automatic AC has a temperature sensor in the passenger compartment, usually positioned on the ceiling. It reads the temperature and, when you press the AUTO button and you choose, say 18 degrees, it knows where to breathe air and with what intensity, so as to bring the interior temperature as fast as 18 degrees.
After the sensor feels 18 degrees, it lowers the intensity so that it keeps the temperature constant.
More cooling zones with automatic climate control
You have certainly heard of double-climate cars or even 3 or more zones. What does this mean? It means that the driver and passenger on the right can enjoy different ambient temperatures inside.
Because the automatic AC system has two or more sensors, position yourself near each passenger. And these, in AUTO mode, may have different air temperatures coming from the air heater.
Same for the rear seat, if there is a separate adjustment … Things that are not possible with a manual AC.
Quick demisting with one button
If you have a steamed or frozen windscreen and you have manual AC, you have to start the AC, you have to go at full speed, choose the position of the windscreen and set the heat to maximum.
Instead, in an automatic installation, you have a single button for all these things. This is a button that has the windshield symbol drawn next to the letter MAX (in most cases).
When you press it, the installation knows that you want to defrost the window and gives maximum intensity, chooses the direction of blowing alone, and automatically turns on the AC.
It may not be a big deal, but it is a handy option for those in a hurry and for those who want to get some visibility as soon as possible.
If we draw a line, we will realize that most of the advantages that an automatic AC has in front of the manual one can be called molds.
The main purpose for which the automatic system was developed is to leave the automatic mode permanently and to get rid of daily adjustments and settings or at different weather changes.
But about 5% of those who have an automatic climate on cars use it in the permanent AUTO mode, which tells us that many drivers do not know how to use the air conditioning system.
If you do not use it in automatic mode, then, you can as well, return to the manual air conditioner, the one with 3 adjusting wheels, as they had in the cars of the 80s. 🙂