How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are reaching record highs across the states and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to battle the seasonal heat. Although we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the team at Ilten's Incorporated in Cedar Rapids wants to give you a glimpse at just how an AC system works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science involved in keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner operates in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your cooling system has a bigger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to to the external part of your home. This refrigerant easily converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from your indoor air and turns back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to the unit outside where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the location your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be located in the home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which raises 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 runs across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil by an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner functions on an relentless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in Cedar Rapids give us a call at 319-208-3295. You’ll be able to get through this hot weather thanks to science and the support from our experts.

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