man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are hitting record numbers across the U.S. and the majority of homes are utilizing some kind of air conditioner to battle the summer heat. While we are all appreciative that your air conditioner works, the experts at iTemp Heating and Air Conditioning in Chicago would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s plenty of science regarding keeping your home cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a more difficult responsibility to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a constant loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant easily converts from a liquid to gas and back to a liquid again. It enters your home as a sub-cooled liquid and as it evaporates it absorbs heat from your indoor air and expands 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 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 located inside your home, in your garage or sometimes in your attic. Warm air moves across the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then sent throughout 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 flows across the coil, heat is released outdoors and the refrigerant is converted back into a sub-cooled liquid. This sub-cooled liquid is then returned to the indoor evaporator coil and through an expansion valve or metering device. The process is then repeated.

That accomplishes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs 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 Chicago give us a call at 773-704-0640 or set up an appointment using our online scheduler. With the help of our team and science we’re going to make it through this sweltering summer.