How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temperatures are reaching record highs throughout the states and most homes are using some kind of air conditioner to combat the smoldering heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Stieferman Heating Company Inc in Jefferson City wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science involved in keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner operates in a comparable way to your refrigerator, of course your cooling system has a bigger responsibility to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. 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 soaks in 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 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 inside your home, in your garage or even 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 is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which raises 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 flows across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil through 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 crucial 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. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.