How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temperatures are reaching record highs around the U.S. and many homes are running some kind of air conditioner to beat the summer heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, the team at Service Max Heating & Air Conditioning in Arlington wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science behind keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a more difficult job to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant easily alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections 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 in the home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air transports throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor sits 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 goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That concludes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Arlington you can reach us at 360-255-5857. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.