How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is in full swing with record highs across the country, and with a lot households having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the ideal way to beat the heat. As you are unwinding in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how an average cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the just like your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that converts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the exterior to indoors. It goes into the interior as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and assembles or soaks up heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then back to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is changed back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built of four key components: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is moved across the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooler air is pushed among your indoor space.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant returns to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor enhances the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where a smaller amount hot air blows across the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and changes the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of processes. We realize the important thing to you likely isn’t what happens behind the scenes, but that it’s operating successfully. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at (616) 669-3961. We will partner with you and the laws of physics to keep you cool this summer.

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