How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record highs 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 relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner functions, let’s gain some insight at how a typical central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the same way as your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant ring from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from your indoor air, 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 critical pieces: 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 located in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooler air is pushed among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, removing 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 consistent loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 760-784-9034. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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