man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record highs throughout the U.S. and many homes are using some kind of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. Although we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the team at PWA Heating & Cooling Inc in Plainfield would like to inform you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner runs 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, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant quickly 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 your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements to your air conditioner unit: 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 found inside your home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air passes throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your home.

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

That accomplishes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We understand that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Plainfield give us a call at 815-768-6656 or set up an appointment using our online scheduler. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.