Can I use my Air Conditioner in Winter

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With air conditioners that can work as a heat pump, you can run your AC in the winter to make the room warmer. Such type of AC is also called hot and cold AC. However, you cannot run a normal AC to warm up your room in the winter.

In hot and humid summers it is a great delight to have an air conditioner.

It protects us from the outside harsh temperature.

Its cool breeze calms our nerves.

But have you wondered, can it work in the winter season when the outside temperature is near to freezing?

Will the same AC that cools the room can also warm up the room in the winters? 

Let’s see.

How AC works

Before going to the next section you must know some basics of how an air conditioner works.

You can also “skip” this section.

Your AC works on the mechanism of “refrigeration”.

There is a substance inside the AC coils called the refrigerant. Another key component includes the compressor.

This refrigerant flows thorugh evaporator(indoor) and condensor(outdoor) coiling.

The refrigerant becomes cooler inside the room and hotter outside the room(in the outdoor unit).

This cooling and heating of the refrigerant are made possible by the compressor and expansion valve.

Indoor air gets cool when it comes in contact with the indoor unit coiling called the evaporator.

And by this mechanism, your room gets cooler.

What happens if you run your normal AC in winter

Your AC can only cool the room.

If you run your normal AC in the winter season.

It is designed such that the compressor will not start in the winter. 

The compressor is the most important component of an AC. The refrigeration mechanism only begins when it starts. 

Will running AC in cold weather damage it?

If somehow you manage to run the compressor in the winters then your AC is at high risk.

Your AC can get damaged.

Another point to consider is that a heavy grade lubrication oil is used for the compressor which helps it run smoothly in summers.

The same oil thickens in the winters. 

Hot And Cold AC can be used in winters

AC with Heat Pump

There is a special type of AC which can work as a heat pump.

A heat pump is a system that can pump heat inside or outside the room.

An AC which can provide both heating and cooling inside the room can be said as a heat pump.

Such type of AC is also called a “Hot and Cold AC”. 

The air conditioning unit uses refrigeration for producing cool air inside and hot air outside.

The flow of refrigerant is only possible in one direction in the case of normal ACs.

By reversing this flow, an AC can produce hot air inside and cool air outside. 

In Hot & Cold AC, the refrigerant can flow in both directions one at a time.

A component called the reversing valve is used to reverse the flow of refrigerant.

Such an AC can be used for the entire year across different seasons.

It can cool the room in summers and warm up the room in winters.

Advantage of Hot and Cold AC

1. Can be used across seasons

AC that can work as a heat pump can work both ways to provide hot or cold air inside the room.

Due to this, there is no restriction on the appliance usage.

The AC can run in any season – summer, spring, monsoon, winter.

2. Consumes Less electricity from a heater

A Heater consumes a hell lot of electricity.

With Hot and Cold AC, there is no need for a heater as it warms up your room.

Comparing the power consumption for both the devices.

The heater demands very high power consumption but AC does not need such high power.

The refrigeration mechanism in AC is more economical and efficient for producing heat than a heater.

Limitations of using Hot and Cold AC

ice buildup on air conditinoner outdoor unit

While such a type of AC consumes less power compared to a heater.

But it also has certain limitations. 

It cannot be used when the outside ambient temperature is below 10 °C(50 °F).

As for warming up the room, it throws cold air outside which is cooler than the outside air.

In such a situation the outside AC unit or the condenser coils can freeze.

This is dangerous and can damage the AC.

In regions where the temperature is near to freezing temperature, such an AC cannot be used.

Only heaters are the solution here.

Final thoughts

If you want to use an AC in winters then buy an AC which can work as a heat pump. These are also called hot and cold AC.

They can work both ways for heating and cooling.

Such type of air conditioners will be expensive than the normal ACs and their servicing will also be a little difficult and expensive.

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