How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temps are climbing to record numbers around the states and the majority of homes are using some kind of air conditioner to battle the smoldering heat. Though we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, the team at Precision Mechanical in Rapid City thought they would give you a look at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your home cooler. Your air conditioner runs in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your cooling system has a larger job to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from inside the home and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your air conditioner unit: 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 found in the home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air transports through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout your home.

Your compressor resides 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 changed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil through an expansion valve or metering device. This continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That concludes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner functions on an endless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Rapid City give us a call at 605-206-2564. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.