How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are climbing to record numbers around the country and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the team at Air-Right Energy Design, Inc. in Manassas thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science regarding keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner operates in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your air conditioner has a bigger 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 the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly changes 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 absorbs heat from your indoor air and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main sections 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 indoors, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air moves across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your indoor space.

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

That completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Manassas contact us at 703-260-1148. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.

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