How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are climbing to record figures across the states and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to battle the smoldering heat. Though we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the experts at Paso Robles Heating and Air in Paso Robles wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your air conditioner has a larger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant quickly changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from the indoors and expands back into vapor. This vapor then moves 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 main 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 established inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air moves across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor sits 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 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 converted 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 today…your air conditioner operates on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Paso Robles contact us at 805-203-8667. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

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