How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but clearly compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 built 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is pushed throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your outside 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 sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of movement. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 818-275-0897. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this season.

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