How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record heat across the country, and with many houses having some type 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, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but clearly compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent circle from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or absorbs heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 critical components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The part 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 throughout your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes 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, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 replicated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of movement. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 631-737-5566. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this season.

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