How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant loop from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in 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 changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is made of four key components: 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 blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooler air is pushed among your indoor space.

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 turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where less hot air blows past 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 redone.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 928-432-6018. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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