How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that converts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular loop from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then back 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 critical 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 throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooler air is pushed among your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed in your outside condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows by the coil, removing 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 replicated.

Your AC system is an endless loop of movement. We realize the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about remaining cool, give our technicians a call at 301-363-4699. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this season.

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