How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season has arrived with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how an average central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly 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 assembles or absorbs heat from your indoor air, 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 built of four critical parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooler air is pushed within your house.

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

Your AC system is a constant loop of physics at work. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about staying cool, give our technicians a call at 715-301-0256. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to keep you cool this season.

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