How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record highs across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outdoors to indoors. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up 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 created out of four critical 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 inside, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is driven among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where less hot air blows past the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 redone.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 850-250-0335. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.

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