24/7 Emergency Support

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

Summer has arrived with record temps across the country, and with a lot households having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to escape the sun. As you are sitting in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s gain some insight at how an average central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then heads to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four main pieces: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The part where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside your home, in your attic, or located in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is blown within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your AC system is an endless loop of movement. We realize the important thing to you might not be how your AC operates, but that it’s working correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 907-202-9798. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.