How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record figures throughout the country and many homes are utilizing some variety of air conditioner to battle the smoldering heat. While we are all grateful that your air conditioner works, the experts at O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning in the Main Line would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a comparable way to your refrigerator, of course your AC has a larger responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, with your AC this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant effortlessly alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then moves 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 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 found in the home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air transports across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout your home.

Your compressor sits in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which increases the pressure of the vapor until it is changed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid then goes back to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That concludes your physics lesson for now…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We know that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but just the fact it’s running. If you’d like to chat about staying cool and comfortable in the Main Line give us a call at 610-257-7035. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

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