How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The summer season is here with record highs across the country, and with many houses having some kind of air conditioner, it’s the most effective way to escape the sun. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, thankful that your air conditioner functions, let’s take a peek at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner runs the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a little space cool, it has to effectively provide cooler air to your whole home. Both use a refrigerant that changes easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a consistent ring from the outdoors to the interior of your house. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and collects or soaks up heat from your indoor air, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is made of four main pieces: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The component where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside your home, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is pulled from the air…and the colder air is pushed within your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor located in your outside condensing unit. The compressor increases the pressure of the vapor until it shifts into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor goes into the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, eliminating the heat to the outdoors, and returns 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 redone.

Your HVAC system is a constant loop of movement. We realize the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s functioning correctly. If you’d like to talk science or just about staying cool, give our professionals a call at 309-323-9584. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you happy this summer.

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