How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

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

The Basics

Your air conditioner operates the similar to your refrigerator, but understandably compared to keeping a small space cool, it has to cool your entire home. Both use a refrigerant that adapts swiftly from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular loop from the outdoors to the inside of your home. It goes into the house as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or takes in heat from the air within your house, expands back into vapor, then returns to the outside condensing unit where it dissipates the heat and is switched back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is built 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 indoors, in your attic, or in your garage. As warm indoor air is blown over the cold evaporator coil, heat is detached from the air…and the colder air is pushed throughout your home.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outdoor 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 a lower amount hot air blows past the coil, moving heat to the outdoors, and switches the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is sent to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is redone.

Your HVAC system is a consistent loop of movement. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s operating correctly. If you’d like to think about the process or just about staying cool, give our technicians a call at 706-250-7539. We will work with you and the laws of physics to confirm you cool this season.

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