How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer has arrived with record heat across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a little space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 critical 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 located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is pushed among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed 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 enters 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 sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your AC system is a constant loop of movement. We know the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 972-445-9504. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to keep you comfortable this season.

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