How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The popular season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with many houses having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle from the outdoors to the interior of your house. 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 switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four main pieces: 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 colder air is driven among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows by the coil, moving 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 an endless loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 407-477-6319. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this time around.