What is the Difference Between Air Conditioning and Ventilation?


If like many, you believe that ‘air conditioning’ and ‘ventilation’ are interchangeable terms, you’d be greatly mistaken. In fact, ventilation and air conditioning aren’t just a little different, but they actually provide completely different functions. It can be completely impractical to use a ventilator in an environment where an air conditioner is needed, and vice versa. In this article, we will be discussing the difference between the two and highlighting which situations call for air conditioning and which call for ventilation.

What is Ventilation?

Many people wrongly assume that ventilation is a method of cooling a room. In fact, ventilation has nothing to do with temperature and does not possess the ability to cool or heat a room. Ventilation is where the air from outside is pulled and mixed with the air from inside. This air is then released back, resulting in a room with slightly purer air. The aim here is not to change the temperature of the room but to remove pollutants and bad smells through purification.

What is Air Conditioning?

Air conditioning functions solely to alter the temperature of the room but not to purify it. Air conditioners do not source any air external to the room; instead, they take the existing air, cool it (or heat it, depending on setting) and then recycle it back into the same room. The result is air with a higher or lower temperature but the same purity.

What is the Benefit of Ventilation and When Should I Use It?

Given that both ventilation and air conditioning provide two different functions, it’s important to understand which is better to use in certain circumstances. For example, if you are a business owner in charge of a relatively small office space with a fair amount of workers, it would be highly recommended to prioritise ventilation over air conditioning. While enclosed areas with lots of people can sometimes get warm, it is likely going to be the quality of air that will be most bothersome. In small spaces, bad smells and dirty air are unable to move away and end up occupying a large percentage of the room. Thus, the bad smells and polluted air would be much more noticeable and would likely become a continuous problem.

Industrial businesses should also prioritise ventilators as the nature of their work can cause the release of dust and hazardous materials. By using a ventilator, the air is purified and the harmful products are removed.

What is the Benefit of Air Conditioning and When Should I Use It?

Air conditioning is more suited for making sure workers or customers are at an optimum, comfortable temperature. Since air conditioning periodically recycles polluted air, it is more suitable for environments where dirty air is less of a problem. Shops or general open office spaces can prioritise comfortable temperate air over clean air, as the environment generally isn’t going to be producing any hazardous toxins in the same way that industrial work would.

At FM Mechanical, we supply air conditioning and ventilation for commercial and domestic use. We have over 30 years of experience in the industry and can provide you with all the advice and recommendations you need. To learn more, give our friendly team a call today.