How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is hitting record highs across the country and many homes are using some kind of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the experts at Northglenn Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. in Denver thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a parallel way to your refrigerator, of course your AC has a more difficult task 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 to the external part of your home. This refrigerant effortlessly converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your residence 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 the unit outside where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main elements to your AC system: 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 found indoors, 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 transferred throughout your home.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then moves 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. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil through an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner functions on an relentless 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 Denver contact us at 303-452-4146. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

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