How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is hitting record highs throughout the U.S. and most homes are running some type of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. While we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, 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 behind keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, however your air conditioner has a bigger task to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit outside where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements to your AC 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 located indoors, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air transports throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is changed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then moves back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows 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. This process is continually repeated.

That concludes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner runs on an relentless loop of science. We know that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Lawrence give us a call at 785-843-2244. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

Back To Blog