How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is in full swing 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 sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously rather than keeping a single space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly 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 your indoor air, 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 key 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, 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 home.

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 changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows across the coil, moving 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 repeated.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 336-853-6070. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this summer.

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