How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how a typical central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant ring from the exterior to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then back to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four main pieces: 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven within your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows past the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 redone.

Your air conditioner is a constant loop of processes. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 469-213-8367. We will work with you and the laws of physics to keep you cool this summer.

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