How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is climbing to record highs around the U.S. and the majority of homes are running some variety of air conditioner to battle the summer heat. While we are all thankful that your air conditioner works, the experts at Lanz Furnace and Fireplace in Monroe thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your living space cooler. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a bigger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant quickly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and turns back into vapor. This vapor then moves 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 components to your cooling system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the place your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be located inside your home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your indoor space.

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

That completes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner operates on an relentless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Monroe contact us at 608-291-3606. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.