How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are reaching record numbers around the states and the majority of homes are using some kind of air conditioner to beat the summer heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Colvin's Heating and Cooling in Excelsior Springs thought they would give you a glance at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your house cooler. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your air conditioner has a bigger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central components to your AC system: 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 located in the home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

Your compressor sits in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air moves across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid then goes back to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Excelsior Springs contact us at 816-379-3918. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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