You are in traffic on a summer afternoon. Sweat runs down your neck and back until the shirt absorbs it, creating moisture between you and the seat. Your legs are glued to the seat padding, you feel like your hands are about to slip off the steering wheel, and you are thankful that your eyebrows are preventing sweat from entering your eyes. What is missing from this image? the air conditioner.
Today, we can hardly imagine a road trip without air conditioning. But for half of their history, they haven’t. Was only after 1940 Some models began to emerge that were able to control cooling and heating on board, and in fact it is still possible to find models that, at least in their basic versions, do not have air conditioning. Because when your car’s air conditioning is on and blowing cool, refreshing air, every ride becomes much more enjoyable.
As such, the air conditioner has operated in much the same way throughout its existence: cools and removes moisture from the air. Basically, the system consists of three main parts: the compressor, condenser and evaporator, along with a few other parts to keep the system running smoothly. But this time we will not explain how the equipment works, but we will address one of the problems adjacent to its use: How much fuel does it consume to activate it? Is it the same for everyone?
Air conditioning and heating: how much do they consume in our cars?
Air conditioning and heating in the internal combustion cars they have completely different functions. Although many do not know it, turning on the heater does not increase fuel consumption. The heat is obtained from the energy generated by the engine itself, so it is enough to have it turned on to provide it. Therefore, if you turn on the heater, you just have to wait a few minutes to feel its effects (the time for the engine to warm up).
Bugatti Chiron’s air conditioning circuit, considered the best in the automotive world
However, we would be lying if we said that its consumption is zero. The fan that transmits the heat inside uses electricity from the battery. And to charge the battery it also consumes a little gasoline, but very little. Thus, taking advantage of the thermal dissipation of the motor, heating a car is practically free. When you drive a gasoline or diesel vehicle you are wasting every meter you drive, which has the side effect that you can have the heating based on that waste.
In addition, the air conditioner uses a compressor connected to the block belt to operate. It also consumes energy and therefore fuel. We are talking about between 0.2 liters and 1 liter of gasoline per 100 kilometers (+ 5 – 20%). Obviously, consuming more or less depends on factors like the outside temperature, the intensity of air conditioning use and your own driving style. Consider that the more diplomas you need to get on board, the more fuel you need.
But everything changes if we talk about electric cars. As we have seen, a heat engine wastes most of the heat it generates, and it is in turn the one that promotes heating in an internal combustion car. However, a zero emissions strives to waste nothing. So if you turn on both the heating and the air conditioning, energy consumption will increase considerably. Therefore, we can say that we are talking about a paradigm shift of the concept.
We mentioned it above: it is wrong to say that heating is 100% free. It comes from the combustion of fuel that the car wastes. Getting around by electric vehicle is âmore efficientâ in this regard. When the machine is off, so does the energy consumption, unless you need the aforementioned lights, sound system, air conditioning or heating. The idea here is that energy consumption is always as low as possible, struggling not to waste anything.
Therefore, if you drive an electric car and need air conditioning or heating, the necessary energy is taken directly from the battery, the heart that powers the car in the same way that gasoline and diesel do the same with the combustion engine. This can result in the possibility of enjoying the cold and heat emanating from your car’s air conditioner, but at the same time, also you will reduce the range of the vehicle. How? Under normal conditions it tends to be around between 10% and 20%.
To avoid reducing range, one of the biggest concerns for customers of fully battery-powered vehicles, many manufacturers are already implementing a small heat pump in their models. This invention with decades of popularity in homes and offices is now carving a niche by diving into the future of driving, guarantee efficiency, performance and benefits whatever the weather conditions to face.
Is it true that you are losing power with the air conditioning on?
It depends on the vehicle. To date, it is proven that the use of air conditioning can lead to a significant decrease in the power that the vehicle engine can offer. Estimates indicate that approximately between 2 and 15 hp to the heat engine, depending on the efficiency of the vehicle’s air conditioning system. This is something that is most appreciated in cars with small engines and little horsepower and torque, whereas in larger engines it is hardly noticeable.
However, in modern cars, when the throttle is fully depressed, the compressor is automatically cut off so as not to put the driver in trouble if he is asking for all the energy at once. Likewise, all cars equipped with a Stop / Start system turn off their compressor when the propeller does the same, as long as the propeller is not electrically controlled. Some of the power is also lost in today’s zero emission car, but it is less noticeable than autonomy.
Source: Motorpassion, Endesa