How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season has arrived with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to escape the sun. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the just like your refrigerator, but clearly instead of keeping a single space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or takes in heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns 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 made of four main parts: 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 situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is blown among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 movement. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating the right way. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 336-265-1535. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this season.

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