How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The temps are climbing to record figures across the country and most homes are utilizing some kind of air conditioner to beat the summer heat. Although we are all appreciative that your air conditioner runs, the professionals at Airtronic Heating & Cooling in Redford would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science behind keeping your living space cooler. Your air conditioner operates in a comparable way to your refrigerator, but your air conditioner has a bigger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant easily converts 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 soaks in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit outside where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main sections 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 found in the home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air passes across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then released 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 converted into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air moves across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner functions on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Redford you can reach us at 313-230-4053. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.