man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record highs around the states and the majority of homes are using some variety of air conditioner to battle the seasonal heat. Though we are all appreciative that your air conditioner is functioning, the experts at Polestar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Olathe would like to inform you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science behind keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner functions in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a bigger responsibility to tackle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a consistent loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant quickly alters from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to your outdoor unit where the heat is let go and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 main 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 inside your home, in your garage or even in your attic. Warm air moves throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout your home.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil goes into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is converted 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 released outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil and through an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an relentless loop of science. We realize 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 Olathe give us a call at 913-432-3342 or set up an appointment using our online scheduler. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.