How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is hitting record highs throughout the states and most homes are using some variety of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. While we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the experts at Scott Temperature in Lawrence wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science regarding keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, however your air conditioner has a more difficult task to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 core elements to your cooling system: 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 even in your attic. Warm air moves through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which increases the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air moves across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That concludes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner functions on an endless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Lawrence you can reach us at 785-269-0465. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.