How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are reaching record figures across the states and most homes are running some variety of air conditioner to beat the seasonal heat. Although we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the professionals at Heartland Heating & Cooling in Des Moines would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner runs in a parallel way to your refrigerator, however your AC has a larger task to handle. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to the outdoors. This refrigerant effortlessly changes from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It goes into your residence as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it soaks in heat from inside the home and turns back into vapor. This vapor then moves back to the unit outside where the heat is released and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central sections to your AC system: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the place 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 passes through the cold evaporator coil and the heat is removed from the air. This cooled air is then transferred throughout the space inside 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 moves across the coil, heat is moved outdoors and the refrigerant is changed back into a sub-cooled liquid. The sub-cooled liquid returns to the indoor evaporator coil via an expansion valve or metering device. This process is continually repeated.

That completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner operates on an endless loop of science. We understand that it’s not as important to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Des Moines give us a call at 515-344-3579. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.

Back To Blog