How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season is here with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s take a peek at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but clearly compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built of four critical components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The part where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is blown among your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor located in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it shifts 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, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is returned 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 working the right way. If you’d like to talk science or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 570-648-0748. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this season.