How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is hitting record numbers throughout the U.S. and many homes are using some variety of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the professionals at Van Haaften Plumbing & Heating in Pella wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your living space cooler. Your air conditioner operates in a comparable way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a bigger job to manage. 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 effortlessly alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from your indoor air and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit outside where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main components 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 established in the home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air transports through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your indoor space.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which increases the pressure of the vapor until it is changed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted 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 accomplishes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner runs on an never-ending loop of science. We realize that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Pella contact us at 641-628-3621. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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