Why do they call it an "Air Conditioner" ?

This is rather baffling to me. What exactly is it doing to ‘condition’ the air? What does cooling the air have anything to do with conditioning it? and how is that different from heating the air?

We call a device that heats up a room a heater- this makes sense. Something that heats.

But a device to cool a room is called an air conditioner. We have the word ‘cooler’ but instead of giving it a logical use we decided to use the word to mean an insulated box to put ice and beverages in. I fail to see how ‘conditioned’ has any connotations to ‘cool/cold’. When I walk outside at 7 AM, I don’t say, “Boy, it sure is a conditioned morning today!”

All I can say is, blue for cold, red for warm. If my car’s console has taught me anything, its that :smiley:

Air conditioning also controls humidity and circulates and filters contaminants from the air.

If you want to heat air, you burn coal, gas, oil, wood or whatever to heat it. There really is a thing called heat, so you add some of it to make warmer air. However, cold is just the absence of heat therefore you have to find a way to take away the heat. An air-conditioner has coils like a refrigerator which uses a condensor to cool the coils. This makes the moisture in the air condensate on the coils, which draws heat out of the air. This actually happens when you sweat, especially if you have a fan, which is also part of the air-conditioner. That process is referred to as conditioning the air. You could not reverse the process to heat the air, since that would only cause it to rain. :wink:

Well, at least you’re educated.

My guess – and it’s basically that – is that it relates to the fact that an air conditioner does a bit more than cool the air. It also dehumidifies the air.

Some of the charm of air conditioning lies in the fact that AC’s remove much of the humidity from the air they recirculate. The lowered humidity can make 80-degree air feel positively crisp, mainly by promoting the evaporation of your perspiration. An AC supplies you with drier air, and that allows your natural cooling system – your sweat glands – to operate at a much higher efficiency. Your sweat evaporates faster, and that makes you feel cooler.

As an added bonus (how’s that for a ridiculous combination of terms?), the “conditioned” air carries fewer bacteria and fewer nasty smells. The weird garlicky stuff your SO brewed in the kitchen loses its aromatic bite after passing through the coils of your AC because a lot of the moisture that carried the stench is collected on the AC’s condenser.

When I look back at your “blue for cold, red for warm” statement, I tend to wax philosophic. Oh, God, could it just be that simple!

Oh, you forgot your period.

It goes at the end of a sentence.

Smiley or no.

Before air conditioning was developed, attempts at cooling buildings consisted of blowing air over large blocks of ice. It did provide cooling, but was so humid it wasn’t all that comfortable. When it was possible to offer cool, dehumidified air, it made sense to give it a more descriptive name than “cooling.” The term “air conditioning” helps distinguish A/C from what preceded it.

Ah, thank you. I didn’t realize that Air Conditioning did more than just cool the air.

This term may also date back to the advent of the air conditioner itself. Now, this may be straight up urban myth, but i have read that the air conditioner was one of the silver linings of both the Panama Canal (not that that exactly needed silver linings- very helpful that canal) and Malaria (now you see where i was going with that ‘silver lining’ bit).

Namely, malaria (before the advent of a comprehensive germ theory) was though to be a disease caused by bad air (malaria-- ‘mal’ + ‘aria’), air that was muggy and dank. So some guy made a machine to fix the air, and therefore cure malaria.

didn’t work, but it made the night sweats somewhat more tolerable.


p.s.- ooh, and also, maybe “air conditioner” is a literal translation from the French, and maybe French for air conditioner is a rather beautiful and sensible phrase. who knows.

Handy, helpful link for those interested to learn more on the subject.

Panama Canal? A little late.

History of air conditioning.

And while air conditioners today are mainly used to dehumidity, its first use was exactly the opposite:

Not quite the first use; earlier in the same article: