How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record numbers across the country and the majority of homes are utilizing some kind of air conditioner to beat the smoldering heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, the professionals at Colvin's Inc 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, of course your AC has a bigger responsibility to handle. 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 house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from inside the home and expands back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to the unit outside where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

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

The evaporator coil is where 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 indoor space.

Your compressor sits in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is converted 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 changed 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 operates on an endless 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 816-630-2702. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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