How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season has arrived with record temps across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the ideal 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 look at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a small space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant loop 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 back 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 created out of four critical pieces: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component 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 carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is pushed throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows past the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 replicated.

Your air conditioner is a constant loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 561-287-7071. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you happy this time around.

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