How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Summer is here with record temps across the country, and with many houses having some type of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to get out of the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s take a peek at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the just like your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent loop from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or takes in 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 made of four critical components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component 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 blown throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor based in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows past the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your HVAC system is an endless loop of movement. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning the right way. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our professionals a call at 717-216-0846. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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