How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s look at how an average central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant loop from the outside to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then back 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 built of four main components: 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is carried over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is blown among your home.

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

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of processes. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 909-982-5698. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to keep you happy this season.

Back To Blog