How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or absorbs heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

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

The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooled air is blown within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows across the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is returned to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 866-326-9537. We will work with you and the laws of physics to keep you comfortable this time around.

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