How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are reaching record highs throughout the country and the majority of homes are using some kind of air conditioner to battle the summer heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the professionals at Stieferman Heating Company Inc in Jefferson City would like to inform you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your cooling system has a larger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily alters 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 absorbs heat from your indoor air and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit outside where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 core components to your AC system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found inside your home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air transports through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is converted 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 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 functions on an relentless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Jefferson City give us a call at 573-203-3908. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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