How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer has arrived with record highs across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind 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 runs well, 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 work to cool down your whole house. 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 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 switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four key parts: 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 colder air is blown within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances 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, moving heat to the outdoors, and changes 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 a consistent loop of movement. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating 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 cool this season.

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