How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The summer season is here with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s look at how a normal AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but obviously compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire 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 ring from the outdoors to indoors. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then heads to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

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

The piece 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 in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is driven within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor stationed in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a lower amount hot air blows by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and switches 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 replicated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of movement. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about keeping cool, give our technicians a call at 503-663-8033. We will work with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this season.