How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

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

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular circle from the outside to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 created out of four main 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 your home, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooler air is blown among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows by the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your HVAC system is an endless loop of movement. We know the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s operating the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at 262-358-9468. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.

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