How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with many houses having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how a typical central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the just like your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a small space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular loop from the outdoors to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in heat from the air within your house, 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 created out of four main components: 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 indoors, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooler air is pushed throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where less hot air blows across the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and switches 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 HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We know the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our technicians a call at 912-208-2470. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this time around.

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