How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are climbing to record figures around the states and the majority of homes are using some type of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at McCune Heating & Cooling in Augusta thought they would give you a look at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science involved in keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your air conditioner has a bigger task 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 changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit outside where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the location your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found indoors, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which increases the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then moves back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That concludes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner operates on an relentless loop of science. We know that it’s not as important to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Augusta give us a call at 316-733-9123. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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