How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The popular season is here with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the outside to indoors. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in 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 built of four critical parts: 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 situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the cooled air is blown throughout your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located in your outside 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 a smaller amount hot air blows past 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 redone.

Your air conditioner is a consistent loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 208-621-0129. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you cool this time around.