How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The popular season has arrived 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 get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle from the outdoors to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 made of four critical components: 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 inside, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns 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 less hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your air conditioner is an endless loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 325-200-4667. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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