How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps 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 thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science regarding keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. 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, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from the indoors and turns back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit outside 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 in the 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 the space inside your home.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows 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 runs across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid then goes back to the indoor evaporator coil by an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That concludes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner functions on an relentless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Lexington contact us at 336-853-6070. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

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