man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are reaching record highs around the U.S. and most homes are using some type of air conditioner to combat the smoldering heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the team at Ackerman Heating & Air Conditioning in Colfax would like to teach you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a plethora of science behind keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner operates in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a larger task to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts 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 takes in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is freed 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 removed 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 raises 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 endless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Colfax give us a call at 509-397-3622 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.