man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are reaching record figures around the U.S. and most homes are using some variety of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. Though we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the experts at James Heating & A/C, Inc in Lexington would like to inform you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science regarding keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your AC has a more difficult responsibility to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main components to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the location your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is converted into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil and through an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That concludes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an relentless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Lexington give us a call at 336-853-6070 or set up an appointment using our online scheduler. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.