How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temps are climbing to record highs across the U.S. and most homes are utilizing some variety of air conditioner to beat the smoldering heat. While we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the experts at Rescue Heating & Air in Alice thought they would give you a sneak peek at how an air conditioner operates.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your air conditioner has a more difficult job 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 the outdoors. This refrigerant easily changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your house as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it takes in heat from your indoor air and turns back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to your outdoor unit where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 core elements 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 inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air moves throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then released throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor sits in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which surges the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then enters back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air moves across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is changed 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 concludes your physics lesson today…your air conditioner functions on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that you are staying cool. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Alice contact us at 361-265-4371. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

Back To Blog