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 wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your home cooler. 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, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant quickly 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 takes in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements 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 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 indoor space.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which raises 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 flows across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is converted 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 process is continually repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner operates on an never-ending loop of science. We understand that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Plainfield you can reach us at 815-768-6656. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.

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