How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner functions, let’s gain some insight at how an average central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent circle from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles 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 made of four critical pieces: 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is driven among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it turns 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 switches the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your air conditioner is a constant loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at 817-864-1021 or book an appointment with us online. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to keep you cool this season.

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