How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is reaching record numbers across the states and most homes are running some variety of air conditioner to battle the seasonal heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the professionals at Airmen HVAC Service in Montoursville wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your house cooler. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your air conditioner has a larger job to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from the indoors and expands back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your cooling 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 found indoors, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout the space inside your home.

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

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We know that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Montoursville you can reach us at 570-322-3131. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.