How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are reaching record figures across the states and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to battle the seasonal heat. While we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the team at Kelley Mechanical in Lexington thought they would give you a look at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your house cool. Your air conditioner functions in a parallel way to your refrigerator, of course your air conditioner has a larger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, however with the air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It flows into your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from inside the home and turns back into vapor. This vapor then transfers back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central elements to your AC system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the place your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid into a super-heated vapor. This component can be found inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air passes across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor resides 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 transformed 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 moved outdoors and the refrigerant is converted 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. The process is then repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner functions on an never-ending 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 Lexington give us a call at 859-209-3003. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

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