How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is reaching record numbers around the country and most homes are running some variety of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. Though we are all grateful that your air conditioner runs, the team at Paso Robles Heating and Air in Paso Robles would like to teach you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your AC has a more difficult task to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant easily converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your home 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 located outdoors where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

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

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

Your compressor sits 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 transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then moves back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil by 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 it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Paso Robles you can reach us at 805-203-8667. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.