How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s gain some insight at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the just like your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outside to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 built of four critical components: 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 your home, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried across the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooler air is pushed throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor enhances 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 redone.

Your AC system is a constant loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 828-775-5176. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this season.

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