How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

Summer is in full swing with record highs across the country, and with the vast majority of homes 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, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s gain some insight at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a small 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 ring from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or takes in 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 created out of four main pieces: 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 indoors, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is driven throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located 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 a smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, moving 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 redone.

Your HVAC system is an endless loop of movement. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at 561-270-6228. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this summer.