How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how an average central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably rather than keeping a single 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 constant loop from the outdoors to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then heads 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 made of four key components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The piece 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooler air is blown among 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 raises the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows past 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 replicated.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 715-352-4052. We will work with you and the laws of physics to keep you happy this time around.

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