How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

Summer has arrived with record highs across the country, and with many houses having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s gain some insight at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that converts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects 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 switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four main components: 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, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is blown among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less 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 sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 850-250-0335. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this season.