How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season has arrived with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or absorbs heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then back 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 critical components: 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is pushed among your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor based 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 smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 repeated.

Your air conditioner is a constant loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our professionals a call at 239-596-2645. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to keep you comfortable this time around.

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