How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record temps across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a typical 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 effectively provide cooler air to your whole 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 constant circle from the outdoors to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then back 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 made of four critical 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 inside, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is pushed throughout your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises 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 by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your air conditioner is a consistent loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our experts a call at 404-987-5502. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.

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