How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temperatures are reaching record numbers around the U.S. and many homes are utilizing some kind of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at House of Heating Incorporated in Marshfield thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner runs in a comparable way to your refrigerator, but your air conditioner has a more difficult job to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant easily alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit outside where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the place your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found in the home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil by an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Marshfield give us a call at 715-384-3163. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.