How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built of four critical parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The part where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is driven within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows across the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and switches the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your AC system is a constant loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our technicians a call at 862-345-6896. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this time around.

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