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 kind of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire 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 constant circle from the outdoors to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air within your house, 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 made 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, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooler air is blown throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor based 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 by the coil, removing 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 replicated.

Your AC system 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 think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 714-464-3376. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this summer.

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