How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is in full swing with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s gain some insight at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant loop from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from the air within your house, 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 main 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is pushed throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less hot air blows past 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 HVAC system is an endless loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 972-695-2264. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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