How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season has arrived 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, grateful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular circle from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built of four critical 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is blown throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and changes 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 movement. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 940-202-1184. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you happy this time around.