How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is in full swing with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to beat the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent circle from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles 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 changed 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 located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is driven throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows by the coil, eliminating the 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 repeated.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of physics at work. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our professionals a call at 308-624-3485. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you happy this time around.

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