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Air conditioning (often referred to as AC or A/C) is the process of removing heat from a confined space, thus cooling the air, and removing humidity. Air conditioning can be used in both domestic and commercial environments. This process is used to achieve a more comfortable interior environment, typically for humans or animals; however, air conditioning is also used to cool/dehumidify rooms filled with heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer servers, power amplifiers, and even to display and store artwork.

Air conditioners often use a fan to distribute the conditioned air to an occupied space such as a building or a car to improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Electric refrigerant-based AC units range from small units that can cool a small bedroom, which can be carried by a single adult, to massive units installed on the roof of office towers that can cool an entire building. The cooling is typically achieved through a refrigeration cycle, but sometimes evaporation or free cooling is used. Air conditioning systems can also be made based on desiccants (chemicals which remove moisture from the air) and subterraneous pipes that can distribute the heated refrigerant to the ground for cooling.

In the most general sense, air conditioning can refer to any form of technology that modifies the condition of air (heating, cooling, (de-)humidification, cleaning, ventilation, or air movement). In common usage, though, “air conditioning” refers to systems which cool air. In construction, a complete system of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is referred to as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC – as opposed to AC).

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