How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but clearly compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire 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 regular circle from the exterior to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles 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 built of four main components: 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 moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooler air is blown within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor based in your outside 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 by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 air conditioner is a consistent loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 724-370-0141. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this time around.