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 kind of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the just like your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant loop from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up 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 made 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 located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is blown throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor based in your outside condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less 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 an endless loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating the right way. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 308-624-3485. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to keep you happy this time around.

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