How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record temps across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a small 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 regular circle from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in 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 changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built of four key components: 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 moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven throughout your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets 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 pushed 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 physics at work. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 702-866-9322. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you happy this summer.

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