How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

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 most effective way to escape the sun. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily 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 assembles or takes in heat from the air in your home, 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, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is driven throughout your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns 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 across the coil, eliminating the 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 an endless loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s operating 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 work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this time around.

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