How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer has arrived with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s gain some insight at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but clearly instead of keeping a small space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. 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 circle from the outside to indoors. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers 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 switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is made of four main parts: 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 situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooled air is pushed within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters 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 returned to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our technicians a call at 601-268-3486 or book an appointment with us online. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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