How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season has arrived with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the exterior to the inside of your home. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is made of four key parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component 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 located in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the cooled air is pushed throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed 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 a smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is returned to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 812-825-8695. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this summer.

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