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 type of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s look at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or absorbs heat from your indoor air, 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 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 indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is pushed among your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows past the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and switches the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your HVAC system is a constant 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 successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 724-745-7404. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this time around.

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