How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The popular season is in full swing with record highs 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 relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a typical AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a small 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 inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then back 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 pieces: 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is blown within your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed 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 meets the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and switches 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 redone.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 540-369-3790. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this time around.