How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is in full swing with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s look at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle 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 colder air is pushed within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less hot air blows past the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your air conditioner 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 remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 812-825-8695. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to confirm you comfortable this season.

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