How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temps are climbing to record highs across the country and most homes are running some kind of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. Although we are all grateful that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Garoken Energy Co. Inc. in Beaverton thought they would give you a glance at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science regarding keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a more difficult responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant quickly converts 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 soaks in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 core elements to your cooling 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 inside your home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

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 moves back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air flows across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid then goes back to the indoor evaporator coil through an expansion valve or metering device. This continues repeatedly throughout the process.

That completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Beaverton contact us at 503-374-1934. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.