Most residences have air conditioning systems, whether it is a central air conditioner, a packaged system, or a ductless system. However, many homeowners still don’t know how AC cool works! Learning how air conditioners operate will not only help you choose the best HVAC system when the time comes, but it will also provide you with a better understanding of all the components so that when repairs are necessary, you will understand why things aren’t working as they should. Continue reading this article to learn how air conditioners work!
Air conditioners provide your home with cool air by removing heat and humidity from the indoor air. It’s important to understand that air conditioners operate in a continuous loop and consist of several components including the thermostat, air ducts, evaporator coil, air blower, condenser coil, compressor, and exhaust outlets. We’ll go into greater detail about each of these components below:
The thermostat is one of the most important components in an AC cool system since it is responsible for communicating with the air conditioner and letting it know when it should turn on and off. For example, when the temperature falls below the preset limit, the thermostat will let the air conditioner know that it needs to shut down. The thermostat is placed in the center of the home, near the air handler, and typically away from windows and doors. This is because sunlight and drafts can lead to incorrect temperature readings and cause your air conditioner to cycle more often, which can significantly raise your monthly utilities.
Condenser and Compressor
Air conditioning systems use refrigerant to cool homes. The compressor, condenser coil, and evaporator coil work together to convert the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas and then back to a liquid through the process of evaporation.
Air conditioning systems are made up of two parts: an inside unit and an outside unit. The outside unit contains the condensing coil and the compressor. Refrigerant gas from your home passes into the condenser unit, is pressurized by the condenser, and is sent to the condensing coil. The condenser coil removes heat from the refrigerant, and releases it outside, as the refrigerant is converted into a liquid.
Evaporator and Air Blower
Next, the cooled refrigerant is sent through a copper tube into an expansion device, which regulates the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is located inside of the air handler along with the fan and blower. The refrigerant enters the evaporator coil and its pressure drops. Since heat is needed to convert the liquid into a gas, heat is drawn in through the surrounding air by the fan or blower assembly. The heat from the surrounding air is then absorbed into the refrigerant, cooling the air as it passes over the coil. When the refrigerant leaves the coil, it is a cool, low-pressure gas. The cool air is then distributed through the ducts to the vents in your home.
Air ducts both deliver cool air to the various ducts in your home and return the warm air to the air blower so it can be cooled again. Before the air is cooled and sent to your home’s various supply duct registers, it passes through filters in your ductwork that removes dust, dirt, and particles.
While the cool air is being distributed throughout your home, heated evaporated gas is sent outside to the compressor and is released through the exhaust outlet fans. The refrigerant, which is now in gas form, is sent to the condenser, continuing the cycle.
The entire process continues until the preset limit on the thermostat is met. Once it is met, the system will shut off. When the temperature rises above the programmed settings on the thermostat, the system will turn on again. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how AC cool works!