How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is hitting record highs across the country and many homes are running some type of air conditioner to beat the summer heat. Although we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the experts at Street Heating and Cooling in Rapid City thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science involved in keeping your home cooler. Your air conditioner functions in a parallel way to your refrigerator, but your cooling system has a larger job to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly changes 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 absorbs heat from inside the home and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections 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 indoors, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air moves through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which increases 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 runs 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 via 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 relentless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in Rapid City you can reach us at 605-206-3915. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.

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