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How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Posted On: April 19, 2017

Have you ever found yourself wondering just how exactly your air conditioner cools off your home? They’re a staple of almost every home in Orlando, but very few folks could really answer the question! Today we’re going to give you a simple rundown, so next time someone asks you can be the smarty in the room!

Need air conditioner services in Orlando, or any of the surrounding areas? Contact Greens Energy Services today!

How an Air Conditioner Cools Your Florida Home

Okay, so as a disclaimer, though the process is actually really simple in principle, it can be an outright mess to both explain and comprehend. There are a lot of simple parts and systems involved, and it is super easy to get lost in the words.

Because of this, we’re going to try to go at this using simple science, and as little jargon as we possibly can! Before we dive in, there are a few key terms you’ll want to know, all four of which are the major parts at play in cooling:

  • Refrigerant. Your air conditioner’s refrigerant is basically the magic behind it all. Refrigerants like R-22 and more recently R-410a (the safer, more modern variant) are chosen because they can rapidly convert from gas to liquid with little trouble, which is critical to the process of refrigeration.
  • Evaporator. This part is where refrigerant is converted from liquid to gas, and is where cool air is technically “generated,” though the term is slightly imprecise.
  • Compressor. The compressor compresses refrigerant, converting it from a gas into a liquid. In the compressor stage, refrigerant is essentially carrying heat out of the home, and to the condenser.
  • Condenser. The condenser is located in the outdoor unit. You can spot the condenser by all of those fins; these help dissipate the heat refrigerant is moving out of the home before the refrigerant is returned into the home and on to the evaporator.

Still with us? Good! By now you’ve probably spotted the pattern. Essentially, an air conditioner works off of the principles of refrigeration, just like your home refrigerator appliance, but on a larger scale, and operates on an endless cycle.

This means that the refrigerant moves into the compressor, then on to the condenser, then back into the evaporator—from there the cycle continues! So where exactly does that cool air come from? What’s coming out of your vents? The answer is in the evaporator. When refrigerant hits the evaporator section, it cools off rapidly and moves through the coils. Fans are blowing over these coils, and the air is then chilled, and sent into your home!

At the same time, warm air within the home is being drawn in, and essentially gets shipped out of the home by way of the action created by the refrigerant and the compressor, where it then moves on to be dispelled and gotten rid of for good at the condenser.

The Short Version

Wishing for some cliff notes? Warm air from the home is pulled into the air conditioner, then taken out of the home. Returning air is chilled, and then blown into the home as cool air from your vents. And all of this is accomplished through the principle of refrigeration, and your AC system’s refrigerant (be it R-22, or R-410a)!

Still have questions? The team at Greens is happy to answer them—contact us today!

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