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 beat the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating 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 rather than 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 constant circle from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up 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 created out of four key components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooler air is pushed among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your outdoor 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 past the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your air conditioner is an endless loop of physics at work. We realize 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 talk science or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 772-232-7649. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this time around.

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