How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season is here with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to beat the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a normal AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or takes in 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 created out 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, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is blown across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the colder air is blown within your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower 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 sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is replicated.

Your air conditioner is a consistent loop of processes. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 803-220-0761. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to keep you cool this season.