How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to beat 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 cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the exterior to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 made of four main parts: 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven throughout 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 increases 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 across the coil, moving 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 redone.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to talk science 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 comfortable this season.

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