How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The weather is reaching record highs across the U.S. and many homes are using some kind of air conditioner to combat the summer heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the professionals at Tri City Fuel & Heating Co., Inc. in West Columbia thought they would give you a glance at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your cooling system has a bigger responsibility to handle. 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 quickly alters 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 absorbs heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit located outdoors where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections to your cooling 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 established in the home, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air moves throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is taken from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout your home.

Your compressor resides in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil enters into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is changed 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 via an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner operates on an never-ending loop of science. We understand that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to talk about staying cool and comfortable in West Columbia you can reach us at 803-796-9172. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.

Back To Blog