How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temps are reaching record figures across the U.S. and many homes are using some kind of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Although we are all appreciative that your air conditioner runs, the professionals at Age Heating & Cooling in Sandpoint thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner runs in a comparable way to your refrigerator, of course your AC has a larger task to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily changes 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 reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers 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 central components to your AC system: 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 located inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air moves throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout the space inside your home.

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

That concludes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner functions on an endless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Sandpoint you can reach us at 208-578-4258. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.