How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record temps across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind 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, thankful that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire 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 ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior 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 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooler air is driven within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets 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 pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning successfully. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 519-664-0600. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this summer.

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