How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a typical central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a small 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 regular circle from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 main 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 situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven among your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed 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 meets the condenser coil where less hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and switches 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 repeated.

Your AC system is an endless loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 702-623-0579. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this summer.

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