man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record highs around the country and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to beat the smoldering heat. While we are all thankful that your air conditioner works, the team at Accurate Heating & Cooling LLC in East Peoria would like to teach you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science regarding keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a bigger responsibility to manage. 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 quickly changes 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 absorbs heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then moves 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 air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be located inside your home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air transports through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken 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 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 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 relentless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in East Peoria give us a call at 309-437-2703 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.