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Effects of Air Conditioner Use on Real-World Fuel Economy

by Shean P Huff, Brian H West, John F Thomas
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Publication Date
Conference Name
SAE 2013 World Congress & Exhibition
Conference Location
Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
Conference Date

Vehicle data were acquired on-road and on a chassis dynamometer to assess fuel consumption under several steady cruise conditions and at idle. Data were gathered for various air conditioner (A/C) settings and with the A/C off and the windows open. Two vehicles were used in the comparisonstudy: a 2009 Ford Explorer and a 2009 Toyota Corolla. At steady speeds between 64.4 and 112.7 kph (40 and 70 mph), both vehicles consumed more fuel with the A/C on at maximum cooling load (compressor at 100% duty cycle) than when driving with the windows down. The Explorer maintained this trend beyond 112.7 kph (70 mph), while the Corolla fuel consumption with the windows down matched that of running the A/C at 120.7 kph (75 mph), and exceeded it at 128.7 kph (80 mph). The largest incremental fuel consumption rate penalty due to air conditioner use occurred was nearly constant with a weakslight trend of increasing consumption with increasing compressor (and vehicle) speed. Lower consumption is seenobserved at idle for both vehicles, likely due to the low compressor speed at this operating point