How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is climbing to record numbers throughout the country and the majority of homes are using some type of air conditioner to beat the smoldering heat. Though we are all thankful that your air conditioner is functioning, the professionals at Mitchell Heating in Colorado Springs thought they would give you a glance at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your house cooler. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your cooling system has a larger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from inside the home and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to your outdoor unit where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements to your AC system: 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 sometimes in your attic. Warm air moves across 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 surges the pressure of the vapor until it is changed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then moves back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air moves across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil by an expansion valve or metering device. This continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That concludes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We realize 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 Colorado Springs you can reach us at 719-596-6677. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.

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