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Air Conditioners: Coolest Idea Ever

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All humans want to be comfy, but the first air conditioner wasn't built for us--it was for a printing press! This video was made in collaboration with & sponsored by http://www.emerson.com/ilovestem Hosted by: Hank Green ---------- Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/scishow ---------- Dooblydoo thanks go to the following Patreon supporters -- we couldn't make SciShow without them! Shout out to Justin Ove, Andreas Heydeck, Justin Lentz, Will and Sonja Marple, Benny, Chris Peters, Tim Curwick, Philippe von Bergen, Patrick, Fatima Iqbal, Lucy McGlasson, Mark Terrio-Cameron, Accalia Elementia, Kathy & Tim Philip, charles george, Kevin Bealer, Thomas J., and Patrick D. Ashmore. ---------- Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records: http://dftba.com/scishow ---------- Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet? Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scishow Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scishow Tumblr: http://scishow.tumblr.com Instagram: http://instagram.com/thescishow ---------- Sources: http://www.google.com/patents/US808897 http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/keepin-it-cool-how-the-air-conditioner-made-modern-america/241892/ http://energy.gov/articles/history-air-conditioning http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2011/07/a_history_of_air_conditioning.html http://energyquest.ca.gov/how_it_works/air_conditioner.html http://www.livescience.com/38685-how-air-conditioners-work.html http://www.jstor.org/stable/4468123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents http://www.citylab.com/work/2012/06/cities-might-not-exist-without-air-conditioning/2399/ http://www.economist.com/news/international/21569017-artificial-cooling-makes-hot-places-bearablebut-worryingly-high-cost-no-sweat http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2003081,00.html http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/dtx/web/htwrnssdy_2012.pdf http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/hats/publictn/elkins/cfcs.html http://energy.gov/eere/articles/energy-department-invests-nearly-8-million-develop-next-generation-hvac-systems
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Text Comments (1186)
GaunletofDestruction (2 months ago)
Everybody just chill. I was fan but have since cooled down. Let me break the ice. Now don't anybody get too heated. XD
Michael Skinner (2 months ago)
.....and you have the idea...
Joshua Brown (3 months ago)
https://youtu.be/R3RwoQt3m7M So does this use a magnet field its a pumpless pc cooling unit that heats an element causing the coolant to heat. Then cool. What coolant do you reckon he used ?
Squeaky (3 months ago)
One time in a hotel I made a blanket fort in between the beds and used the hair dryer on cool mode and the ice bucket to make AC because it would get really hot and to this day I am so proud of that moment
Vlad Vanguine (3 months ago)
You could explain this to me all day and I still can’t wrap my head around it
Gabriel85885 (3 months ago)
Worst explanation, ever.
Volvirth (3 months ago)
I live in the Netherlands. We sleep in saunas to stay cool. ... Pls send halp asap. :|
Robin Chesterfield (4 months ago)
Air conditioners that use water instead of weird chemicals? We already have those. It's called a SWAMP COOLER! :) Yes, really--don't know why the weird name. What it does, is pump some water up into these pads and saturate them, then blow air through the wet material and tada! the air is cooler. Only works well in dry climates, though.
Studyin'Me (4 months ago)
Know I know why there not called air coolers They _condition_ air
Chip Kosboth (4 months ago)
https://youtu.be/Mw-brvKO-Z0 Flanders and Swann explain thermodynamics quite well.
Rhys Logan (4 months ago)
But if you enjoy not tossing and turning and sweating all night thank an HVAC tec. Like my wonderful father
Rhys Logan (4 months ago)
Air conditioning is awesome but the way we use it to death these days can't be healthy, there's evidence that it contributes to all sorts of health problems both directly and indirectly, from obesity to asthma
Jackson Mccreery (4 months ago)
Heh, window-mounted AC. (here, we have central air units that cool whole buildings)
when ur a.c. machine br0ke in the southern us
Mika Hakkinen (6 months ago)
How about air cycle machines for large aircrafts? They use air pressure difference to air condition the turbofan airplanes.
Kenny Lim (6 months ago)
I see what you did with the title
Ron White (6 months ago)
And we're going back to hydrocarbons.
John Smith (6 months ago)
Isn't freon a drug people huff to get high?
Ravi Roshan (6 months ago)
this is great intel on ACs cause I gave a presentation on ACs and refrigerators and how they affect the surroundings. AND This video really helped thank you scishow And Hank
Duffy Rose (7 months ago)
Very bad invention, only perfect for ruining people's eyes by spreading germs and dust everywhere, cause the people in charge of changing filters don't do it at all, so there's a lot of crap in AC units being blown into people's eyes. This ruined my eyes for the rest of my life, it was a nightmare.
Z2ZProductions (8 months ago)
Anyone else watching this while there’s a snow hurricane outside
hamza hamza (8 months ago)
Not disliking but as others i also have to say this video is not as great as what usually comes from scishow!was expecting it in more depth,dissapointed
Brick Stonesonn (10 months ago)
Why dont we add a stirling engine in an ac to save some energy?
Saddam Hussein (10 months ago)
a guy i know killed himself by inhaling frion
SL33PIN S3XY (11 months ago)
so your saying we already knew propane was a horrible idea for a refrigerant. .. huh .. must be why all 2017 or newer Chrysler vehicles use propane based refrigerants
Zes (11 months ago)
wrg,idts. not coox
West Fable (1 year ago)
Hey hey! Yay Emerson! Any chance you guys are planning a video on the efficiency of types of refrigerator currently available on the market and their use in different climates? Maybe even go over a list of common issues that arise in aging units: how to recognize them and distinguish between DIY maintenance types from when to call in a professional....
Mr. Beat (1 year ago)
Aren't all decisions economic as long as scarcity is involved?
radzewicz (1 year ago)
It seems that Hank merely read a very bad explanation  that he himself does not understand. This was a very poor explanation of how an air conditioner works, its not even a good hand-waving explanation. One more BS award.
Maxwell Rissmiller (1 year ago)
OH THE PUNS!!!!!! GET HIT BY A BUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark Angelot (1 year ago)
Ahh, I see what you did there 😄
Braybray (1 year ago)
I live in hell, just kidding it's way hotter here (Arizona)
Existenceisillusion (1 year ago)
There is no such thing as "heat energy". That's _exactly_ like saying kilowatts multiplied by kilowatt-hours is energy. Wrong, just plain wrong. The air doesn't have "heat", heat is what happens when air transfers it's thermal energy to the refrigerant. Heat = power = work = Watts! (Heat and work being specific cases of power, measured in Watts).
tiviallies (1 year ago)
We are currently switching to HFC's from hcfc's the order is cfc -hcfc-hfc
Alexander Mills (1 year ago)
Stopped using ammonia? My refrigerator is relatively new, and it uses ammonia.
CommanderLVJ1 (1 year ago)
No reality: we don't care that you don't have the capacity to care...you work for us.;D
Geovani Nogueira (1 year ago)
CFC's can destroy ozone indeed but the question is, how does CFC's can get up to there if they are a lot more dense than air, and convection currents are not strong enough to carry then up to there?
steve1978ger (2 years ago)
Air conditioners are a mixed blessing. Huge amounts of energy are wasted by using them without thinking. In particular when architects do not consider the thermal properties of their buildings, giving them huge glass fronts and making them essentially greenhouses. Also offices are often cooled down way too low. I worked in a place where I had to bring a wool sweater in the mid of summer. Buildings are cooled throughout the weekend when nobody is even there. Large areas like foyers are cooled down. It's all a huge waste and goes beyond basic principles of sustainability. Also, air conditioning systems tend to spread germs throughout the building, this is a huge problem in hospitals. I considered having an air conditioner installed in my home last summer because it was terribly hot. In the end, I bought semi-transparent shutters to attach to the outside of my windows. Problem solved, at a fraction of the price, if you factor in the energy bill.
Paul Ryder (2 years ago)
So- it would seem that free chlorine, as is dissolved swimming pools to disinfect them, evaporates into the air, then attacks the ozone layer, right?
Roxor128 (2 years ago)
2:08 I spy with my little eye, lots and lots of halogen compounds.
Owen (2 years ago)
Forgot about Evaporative Coolers
patrick zavas (2 years ago)
PLEASE INVESTIGATE! I think this could potentially change the way homes are cooled! A portable swamp cooler (or a circulating air swamp cooler) running inside an air conditioned house (in conjunction with the air conditioning) should compliment each other correct? the air conditioner removing moisture for the swamp cooler to work and the swamp cooler helping the air conditioner by "re-cooling" and adding humidity to the air. Should this not increase efficiency? Hank Green is Awesome!
Reda Bell (2 years ago)
too much talk without pictures thats why your video don't get the hype it should
GiggitySam Entz (2 years ago)
Why can I not find a picture of a refrigerant HFC molecule ? ><
11kingdomheartsfan (2 years ago)
Sidenote: Take extensive notes on this video for the sake of practicing and applying displayed logic elsewhere in the future.
BlacksterFX (2 years ago)
I really love this channel but the explanation in this video wasn't very good :/
so is it the same basic principle for car A.C
H.Ayvaz (2 years ago)
4 words...super heating and sub cooling.if ur an hvac techie you'll get it
Jeremy Andrews (2 years ago)
wasn't the most detailed explanation but to the average person who knows nothing beyond a thermostat I believe it's a basic understanding and little background history of how it all began. good job guys!
Funny Quackers (2 years ago)
Who says that we all have an A/C unit sticking out of our window? I know that most of them work the same - but I have central air.
Wendy Wirawan (2 years ago)
AC is even more complex than I thought, I'm having hard time following Hank's explanation :(
Apporve Tyagi (2 years ago)
How can we cool metallic rods with magnetic field ?
Ian Robison (2 years ago)
its 113 f outside right now. dear god.
Trevor Hale (2 years ago)
"We take air conditioning for granted" Speak for yourself. I keep mine in tip-top shape. Clean them when I need to, store them in their original box and keep them safe and occasionally dust them in the months I don't need them. Those things are expensive, and I intend to keep mine alive for as long as I can. I hate the heat and summer with a passion, so they are essential for my survival during that time period.
Matthew Racioppi (2 years ago)
I'm a heating and air conditioning technician/engineer. This was pretty good. The explanation of the refrigeration system could have been better though. The key people you're missing in there is the metering device, otherwise known as a thermostatic expansion valve in most cases. I won't bore anyone with the details. I just thought my point of view was worth sharing considering I do this for a living.
Matthew Racioppi (2 years ago)
piece* instead of people.
Luke Adsit (2 years ago)
How do showers work in regards to changing the temperature as you twist the knob?
NOONTIDE (2 years ago)
but ammonia remains the most effective industrial coolant. and still dangerous.
T Stormer (2 years ago)
Thank the stars for the inventors of AC
Andrew Timm (2 years ago)
What the video doesn't mention is the real reason only certain materials are used. They have to be able to boil in the evaporator coil (the cool part) and condense in the condensation coil. Evaporation and condensation are called phase changes ( a substance change from say, solid phase to liquid phase - ice melting is an example of a phase change). Phase changes either absorb or release a tremendous amount of energy, depending on which direction you're going thermally. Another handy feature for an air conditioner is that during phase change, the substance stays the same temperature, regardless of how much heat it absorbs or releases. That means an air conditioner can reliably keep the evaporator (cool) coil just above freezing to get the maximum cooling without clogging up with frost. The boiling point is pressure related, so if your a/c is low on coolant, the lower pressure in the evaporator side will drop the boiling temperature below freezing, which is why a/c units that are low on coolant tend to ice up.
alterionisto (2 years ago)
Nope, laser cooling is still the coolest
Even Andy (2 years ago)
In Britain, our AC is called opening a window. We don't have nice things like summer.
Patrick McCurry (2 years ago)
The only one keeping you inside during rain is you.  I used to be a polar bear that suffered real heat exahustion in on 82 F, but since aging past 40 can now jog in 100 F as long as the humidity is really low. No one size fits all climate, eh?
Even Andy (2 years ago)
+CoreStarter When I was in the US it climbed into the 40s often, and no it wasn't comfortable, but I'd rather that any day than winter weather all year round.
CoreStarter (2 years ago)
Theres a difference between warm and california summer, does 45c highs sound fun to you?
Even Andy (2 years ago)
+CoreStarter I lived in the US for 2 years and I greatly preferred the warm weather. Being stuck inside for 3 months because of the pissing rain aint fun either
CoreStarter (2 years ago)
thats a nice joke, hot summers arnt fun.
Sean Kiser (2 years ago)
hfcs are becoming a big problem.
Gedrean Fyrestrom (2 years ago)
I actually did a research paper on the technology of refrigeration back in high school, it seemed like a really cool topic. Yeah, I just made a temperature pun folks.
Gertjan Eisink (2 years ago)
how about using lasers to cool air, like how molecules are cooled to near absolute zero? :D
Warped (2 years ago)
Cool video
Dani Paunov (2 years ago)
The Air Conditioner! One of the _coolest_ inventions made! *pun intended
Law Wong (2 years ago)
Home would be quite uninhabitable without air-conditioning.
Cortarian (2 years ago)
Louisiana... yup... heat is dangerous.
Ben Ghazi (2 years ago)
Can I can a canned can into a can?
James Demos (2 years ago)
Could you show a video explaining Latent heat?
Corner Universe (2 years ago)
Wait so the chemical just gets compressed when it turns into a gas? Does compressing it make the gas lose its heat energy??? If so where does it go?
tarogue1 (2 years ago)
I would think using magnetic fields rather than chemicals to cool/heat the air would be much more energy intensive. With A/C already creating a huge drain on the grid, and the majority of our energy coming from fossil fuels, how would this be better? Wouldn't the products of the increased burning of the fossil fuels be just as bad, if not worse, than any potential leaks from the air conditioners?
The Artificial Society (2 years ago)
Air conditioners are a terrible waste of energy resources. People should just adjust their lifestyles, clothing, fitness, psychology to deal with temperatures. The planet is dying from frivolous wasteful activities. We need to start conserving, have birth control, and be practical.
max Faeq (2 years ago)
anyone here from Arizona too ?
Mati Kook (2 years ago)
And things like electric fans or a trip to the pool can keep you cool but in many places you can just duck into an air-conditioned -building- room such a missed opportunity, at 0:18
nosirrbro (2 years ago)
What about swamp coolers?
Conrailfan2596 (2 years ago)
this guy doesn't know what he is talking about
Conrailfan2596 (2 years ago)
this guy doesn't know what he is talking about
Melissa Casias (2 years ago)
He looks kind of sweaty in this video. I'm wondering if their AC broke so they decided to make this video 😂
The Ceej (2 years ago)
Air conditioning was literally the best invention since the beginning of time. I wouldn't want to live in a world without it. Actually, I couldn't. Because heat is, after all, the number one weather related killer, so air conditioning is a basic necessity that we literally can't live without. If it hadn't been invented, we would have all died heat-related deaths by now.
stalectos (2 years ago)
i see your air conditioner and raise you a refrigerator game over i win.
Hua En (2 years ago)
You think you north hemispherans are suffering? Come to where I live, it's summer 365 days a year, temperatures regularly above 30 degrees Celsius. Worst thing is, the humidity is so high you sweat a lot, making it feel even hotter than it is...
Ryan Edmonds (2 years ago)
whaT* magnetic cooling. do an episode on that
Ray's World (2 years ago)
Cool video
Chrome (2 years ago)
I once lived in the desert, and the electric bill for my house during the summer months was over $1000. Then I got solar panels, it and was free. Yay.
zachary Kendrick (2 years ago)
Ammonia is still used in freezers.
Maho (2 years ago)
nah man toilets and indoor plumbing is the best invention ever. id rather be clean and hot than cool and in sewage.
Ryan Booth (2 years ago)
Was it on purpose that CFC was in Light green and HFC was in pink? The colour codes for R22 (CFC) is light green and R410 (HFC) is pink. Also, propane is beginning to be used again under the name "R-290" in small beverage coolers and sealed units.
Direct Plumbing & HVAC (2 years ago)
Great content, thank you for sharing
𝖛𝖔𝖑𝖙 (2 years ago)
It's funny cause here in France even though it's pretty hot in the summer, we don't really have - and never really had, maybe it's changing but i don't know - domestic air conditioners. It seems to be at least partly cultural.
Hua En (2 years ago)
+ct92404 Im quite sure enduring 4 seasons is much better than enduring year-round summer-like temperatures. Just my opinion though. If I got the chance to visit a cold country, especially one with snow, I would agree in a heartbeat.
ct92404 (2 years ago)
+Hua En No, it only gets that hot during the summer. July-September are the hottest. It does get suprisingly cold here in the winter, but not as cold as other parts of the country...we don't get snow here either, only up in the mountains.
Hua En (2 years ago)
+ct92404 Thats extreme. Do you get this weather 365 days a year? No? Oh. Be grateful you at least have winters, I have never seen snow in real life, ever.
ct92404 (2 years ago)
There are some places where it would actually be pretty much impossible for people to live, or at least impossible to build a large economically successful city, if it wasn't for air conditioning. I live in southern California, and it has been hotter than hell here the past several days. It was 108 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I really think artificial refrigeration/cooling, electricity, and antibiotics are the 3 most important discoveries that advanced civilization the most.
𝖛𝖔𝖑𝖙 (2 years ago)
+Hua En Hahaha I can't even bear my own "hot" summers, I cant even imagine living there. I was made to live in Sweden i think.
MrF22guy (2 years ago)
in sandblasting equipment we have to wear a helmet that supplies fresh air so we won't breath in the dust. On the back of the helmet, were the air hose connects to, there is a coiled tube. What the tube does, is that it uses centrifical force to 'sling' out the heat from the air before it enters the helmet. and it work very well.
Waterlooplein1 (2 years ago)
Was this before or after refrigerators?
Infernus Titan (2 years ago)
I always wanted to know how Air Conditioner works.I still do :P
Mildly Toxic (2 years ago)
The way you talk is annoying as fuck. Your voice and overracting make me cringe. But your videos are good.
Paul Grech (2 years ago)
This is a pretty piss poor vid, there are many others on you tube explaining the cycle a lot more thorougher. Sry SciShow, it's not your best.
Finnalin (2 years ago)
why does my window AC freeze up and make snow in the filter
Deandre Chitay (2 years ago)
two reasons, poor air flow ( check your air filter or replace it ) or low refrigerant -certified hvac tech
brian phillips (2 years ago)
low freon can cause a frost line to slowly build until it encompasses the entire evaporator coil, the filter may be dirty restricting airflow, the evaporator could be dirty, the thermostat could be bad, the room may be to small, something may be blocking the airflow causing the air to super cool, etc...
Ellie Devlin (2 years ago)
Hi, I asked my teacher this but he is unsure of why it happens. Why does air appear cooler when you fan yourself when it is really just the same hot air you are fanning? Does it actually cool it, and if so, how? Please make a video on this, I am very intrigued as to how it happens. Can you mention my name when you ask the question too please, so when I show my teacher the video he knows it was actually me that asked it, instead of me just finding the video.
James Walker (2 years ago)
The movement of air over your skin does not cool you down innately, but it does cause water molecules that are on your skin due to sweat to evaporate. This evaporation requires heat energy to occur and so when it happens it removes heat from your body.
Karim Elmahmoudi (2 years ago)
How does the ac on the International space station work since the heated air can't be dumped outside if you're in space?
stalectos (2 years ago)
+Karim Elmahmoudi venting hot air out wouldn't involve an open window scenario they would just funnel it to a location they can isolate from the rest of the stations oxygen and then release it into space. basically imagine a room with 2 doors that when closed are sealed perfectly all one would need to do is open one put what they don't want in it then close that door and open the other one.
Karim Elmahmoudi (2 years ago)
It might be that way but I am not sure that is why I'm asking.  The reason why it doesn't sound like a great way to do it is though they have the ability to jettison waste, for the AC you're kind of talking about leaving a window open.  That doesn't sound like a low risk approach.  With waste, you can put it in a chamber, vacuum that chamber, then jettison it in one moment.  But you might be right...I would just be surprised if that's how they do it. 
stalectos (2 years ago)
+Karim Elmahmoudi so why don't you think venting the heated air into space would work? you say you don't think it would but you can't (or won't) explain what you think the problem is. btw water on space stations is typically recycled so if they used water cooling chances are it would likely be cooling water using it to cool air and then re-cooling the water for reuse rather than ejecting it into space or letting it evaporate.the tech for that isn't that difficult to figure out i would imagine it would be as simple as having a refrigerator in space.
Karim Elmahmoudi (2 years ago)
I understand space is both very hot and very cold.  For example in sunlight it is 200 plus degrees F.  In the shadows and night it drops to something like -200 F.  So in an orbit it swings 400 degrees every few minutes since an orbit takes around 90 minutes.  I guess what I don't follow is that the AC works by passing air over a coolant and blowing that air in while blowing the now heated air out.  You still can't operate a space AC by holding on to the heated air or venting it out (as far as I know) so I'm confused how it would work.  It might use some other method like water cooling (like how a boat engine is cooled) or something but even that has a flaw in that water is heavy (expensive) and this is quite wasteful.
stalectos (2 years ago)
unless i'm terribly mistaken isn't space for the most part very cold making an air conditioner redundant? also technically you can vent heated air into space (or at the very least i don't see a reason why you couldn't) the main problem would be getting maintaining the level of oxygen in the space station while venting air which if they actually do that i would assume they already have a plan for (likely oxygen tanks or some other supply venting air in)
Sunny Panwar (2 years ago)
I can't live without my AC in Summers at all in India..
Mansur Al Mutawa (2 years ago)
The intro song is like the song in Street Fighter 4.

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