How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record highs across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner runs well, let’s gain some insight at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the same way as your refrigerator, but understandably instead of keeping a small space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outside to the interior of your house. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or takes in heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then back 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 created out of four main parts: 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 indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, removing 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 repeated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 937-526-2077. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you cool this summer.

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