How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here 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 beat the heat. 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 operates the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole 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 consistent circle from the exterior to indoors. 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 back 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 key 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 carried throughout 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 flows to the compressor based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases 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 smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and changes 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 physics at work. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at 478-202-3076. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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