How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is in full swing with record highs across the country, and with many houses having some type 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 look at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a single 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 consistent loop from the outdoors to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up 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 created out of four main parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The part 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 situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven among your home.

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 goes into 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 repeated.

Your air conditioner is an endless 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 correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 407-908-8651. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this time around.

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