How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record heat across the country, and with a lot households having some type of air conditioner, it’s the best way to escape the sun. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how an average AC system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the same way as your refrigerator, but obviously instead of keeping a single space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a constant circle from the exterior to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or absorbs heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four main parts: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside your home, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is moved over the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is pushed throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor based in your outdoor condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor meets the condenser coil where less hot air blows across the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is returned to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of movement. We know the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to know the inner workings or just about staying cool, give our experts a call at 717-597-9900 . We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.

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