How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer has arrived with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle from the outdoors to the interior of your house. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 key parts: 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 indoors, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is blown among your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back 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 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 pushed 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 movement. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s functioning successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 520-201-3871. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you cool this summer.

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