How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The popular season is here with record heat across the country, and with the vast majority of homes having some sort of air conditioner, it’s the best way to get out of the heat. As you are relaxing in your comfortably cool home or office, appreciating that your air conditioner runs well, let’s look at how a typical cooling system functions.

The Basics

Your air conditioner works the just like your refrigerator, but clearly rather than keeping a small space cool, it has to work to cool down your whole house. Both use a refrigerant that converts easily from liquid to gas, back to liquid again. In your air conditioner, the refrigerant is on a regular circle from the outside to the inside of your home. It goes into the home as a sub-cooled liquid that evaporates and gathers or soaks up 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 transferred back to a sub-cooled liquid.

The Components

Your AC system is created out of four key pieces: an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condensing coil, and an expansion valve or metering device.

The piece where your refrigerant evaporates from a sub-cooled liquid to a super-heated vapor is called the evaporator coil, which may be inside your home, in your attic, or situated in the garage. As warm indoor air is carried throughout the cold evaporator coil, heat is removed from the air…and the cooled air is driven throughout your house.

From the evaporator coil, the now super-heated vapor refrigerant goes back to the compressor stationed in your outside condensing unit. The compressor raises the pressure of the vapor until it turns into a hot, high pressure vapor. The now super-hot vapor enters the condenser coil where less hot air blows by the coil, removing heat to the outdoors, and returns the refrigerant to a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid refrigerant is pushed to the indoor evaporator coil where, through an expansion valve or metering device, the process is repeated.

Your air conditioner is an endless loop of physics at work. We understand the important thing to you isn’t really how it works, but that it’s working successfully. If you’d like to think about the process or just about remaining cool, give our experts a call at 417-319-1779. We will team up with you and the laws of physics to ensure you cool this summer.

Back To Blog