man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are 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 would like to inform you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a larger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner 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 enters your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and expands 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 air conditioner unit: 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 inside your home, 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 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 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 it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Colorado Springs give us a call at 719-596-6677 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.