How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer has arrived with record heat across the country, and with many houses having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how a normal cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a small space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular ring from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from the air in your home, 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 built 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 your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached 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 based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 redone.

Your AC system is a consistent loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about staying cool, give our technicians a call at 772-247-2283. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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