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How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a normal AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the just like your refrigerator, but clearly 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 regular ring from the outside to indoors. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from the air in your home, 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 built of four main parts: 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor increases 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 by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and changes 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 repeated.

Your AC system is a constant loop of movement. We know 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 talk science or just about keeping cool, give our professionals a call at 732-806-5536. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this season.