How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is in full swing with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the just like your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the outside to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from your indoor air, 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 created out of four main parts: 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 blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is driven within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises 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 past 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 AC system is a constant loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our technicians a call at 325-200-4667. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this season.

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