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 beat 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 normal AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a small space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs 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 switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four key 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 across the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooled air is pushed within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outside 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 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 air conditioner is a constant loop of physics at work. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our technicians a call at 601-292-9763. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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