How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

Summer is in full swing with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s gain some insight at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole 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 outside to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 critical 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 indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is blown among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back 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 less hot air blows by the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and changes 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 air conditioner is a consistent loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our professionals a call at 727-369-6195. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this time around.