How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temps are reaching record highs around the states and most homes are using some variety of air conditioner to beat the summer heat. Though we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Home Comfort Heating & Air in Elk River thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science behind keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a comparable way to your refrigerator, of course your air conditioner has a bigger task to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly 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 travels 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 central sections to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be established indoors, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is changed 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 continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That completes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We know that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Elk River give us a call at 763-276-0617. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.