High humidity is a fact of life for everyone living in western Florida, and it’s why we all love air conditioning. Find out how humidity affects your air conditioning and what you can do to help control it.
Understanding Relative vs. Absolute Humidity
To understand how humidity affects your air conditioning, you need to start with a basic understanding of what it is. There are two ways to measure how much moisture is in the air: absolute humidity and relative humidity.
Absolute humidity is measured in grams of water per kilogram of dry air. However, what is commonly measured and reported is relative humidity, which is reported as a percentage.
What it actually tells you is how much moisture is in the air compared to how much that air can hold. Generally speaking, the hotter the air, the more moisture it can hold. Therefore, the actual amount of moisture in the air is greater during warmer weather.
Humidity’s Effect on Air Quality
Humidity has a significant impact on the air quality inside your home, which in turn affects your AC unit. Air quality is simply how many contaminants are floating around in the air of your home. The more contaminants in the air, the more they clog your filters and eventually your system, causing significant system strain.
The right amount of humidity helps to draw contaminants out of the air by the moisture weighing them down. According to the EPA, the ideal amount of humidity for your home is between 30% and 50%.
If your air is less than 30%, the particles are not weighed down and will continue circulating. It also causes drier skin and causes wood and leather to crack. All of this adds more particulates to your air, degrading your air quality.
On the other side of the spectrum, humidity greater than 50% also adds more particles to the air. This creates an environment where various spores and other biological cells can thrive. These replicate or grow, also adding more particles to your air.
As you can see, it is important to manage your humidity to keep it in check. In Florida, we generally do not have to worry about not having enough humidity but rather keeping it low enough.
Humidity’s Direct Effect on AC
Beyond managing the number of contaminants in the air affecting your AC, humidity also has a more direct effect. Everyone knows that as the temperature goes up, the more your system has to work to cool the air.
However, an air conditioner also works to dehumidify the air as it runs. This happens by air passing over the evaporator coil condensing the moisture from the air, which then falls down into the drip pan. It is this dehumidifying effect that helps make your home more comfortable, beyond just the cooler air.
Humidity increases as temperature increases, so the system has to continue struggling to operate. As the humidity increases, there is more absolute moisture to draw out of the air. The refrigerant only gets so cold, which means it can only remove so much moisture in a run cycle.
Many people start dropping the temperature when they are not comfortable due to the humidity. The paradox is that as you drop the temperature setting, the more strain it puts on your system. This leads to longer run cycles and exponentially increases the wear on your system by preventing it from resting.
To ensure your system can keep up with the average humidity, you need to ensure it has enough cooling capacity. Too little capacity and your system will not be able to keep up with the increasing heat and humidity.
However, you want to ensure you do not go too large either. Doing so prevents the system from running long enough to actually pull the humidity out of the air.
How to Control Indoor Humidity
The best way to control your humidity is to have a primary dehumidifier. Your options include individual standalone dehumidifiers or one you add to your HVAC system.
Individual room units are nice because they run when the rest of your system rests. However, they also make it more difficult to specifically manage the humidity in your entire house.
Do not stress your system by neglecting your humidity. Air Express, LLC has been helping people around Temple Terrace with air quality management since 2010. People also trust our expert technicians with heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair. Call to schedule your indoor air quality and humidity control consultation today.