How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

July 18, 2016

The weather is hitting record numbers throughout the country and the majority of homes are utilizing some type of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Although we are all thankful that your air conditioner works, the professionals at Lycoming Heating Company in Williamsport would like to teach you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science behind keeping your living space at a comfortable temperature. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, of course your air conditioner has a more difficult task to tackle. 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 quickly alters 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 takes in heat from the indoors and reverts back into vapor. This vapor then travels back to the unit outside where the heat is freed and is then condensed back into a sub-cooled liquid.

Four Components

There are 4 central components to your air conditioner unit: 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 found indoors, in your garage or possibly in your attic. Warm air transports throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout the space inside your home.

Your compressor is located in your outdoor condensing unit. The super-heated vapor from your evaporator coil flows into the compressor which raises the pressure of the vapor until it is transformed into hot, high pressure vapor. The hot vapor then goes back into the condenser coil where less hot outdoor air runs across the coil, heat is pushed outdoors and the refrigerant is adapted 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 completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner functions on an never-ending loop of science. We know that it’s not as crucial to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Williamsport contact us at 570-244-2510. Thanks to science and our pros, you’ll get through this hot summer.