How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record highs across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some type of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to beat the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, grateful that your air conditioner works, let’s gain some insight at how a normal central heating and cooling system works.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a single space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts simply from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular loop from the outside to the interior of your house. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up heat from the air in your home, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

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

The component where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be indoors, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven within your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant flows to the compressor stationed in your exterior condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it changes into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of physics at work. We know the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 952-373-0377. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you comfortable this summer.

Back To Blog