How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season has arrived with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that converts 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 home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 built of four key 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 your home, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is pushed throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor enhances 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, removing heat to the outdoors, and switches 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 replicated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning successfully. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 561-533-6066 . We will partner with you and the laws of physics to keep you comfortable this season.

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