How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is climbing to record numbers throughout the U.S. and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Giordanos Heating and Air Conditioning in Derby would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your cooling system has a more difficult responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections to your AC system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be located indoors, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air passes throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your indoor space.

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

That completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner functions on an never-ending loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Derby give us a call at 203-772-8319. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.