How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temperatures are reaching record highs around the U.S. and the majority of homes are utilizing some type of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Although we are all thankful that your air conditioner works, the team at B & G HVAC in Marshalltown thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your cooling system has a larger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from your indoor air and turns back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your air conditioner unit: 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 located in the home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

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

That completes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner functions on an endless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Marshalltown contact us at 641-323-1210. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.