How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Energy Savings

Most people think that air conditioners lower the temperature in their homes by pumping cool air in. The actual process removes warm air from your house and cycles it back in as cooler air. This cycle continues until your thermostat reaches the desired pre-set temperature. Your cooling system works like a big sponge.  The refrigerant in the system absorbes the heat inside your house and the outside condenser squeezes that heat out into the air outside your home.

System elements include a compressor, a fan, condenser coil, evaporator coil, and a refrigerant. The unit extracts heat from indoor air and transfers it outside, leaving the cooled indoor air to be re-circulated.

An air conditioner is basically a refrigerator without the insulated box. It uses the evaporation of a refrigerant to provide cooling. The mechanics of the refrigerant evaporation cycle are the same in a refrigerator as in an air conditioner. A compressor compresses cool refrigerant, causing it to become hot, high-pressure gas. This hot gas runs through a set of coils so it can dissipate its heat, and it condenses into a liquid. The liquid then runs through an expansion valve, and in the process it evaporates to become cold, low-pressure gas. This cold gas runs through a set of coils that allow the gas to absorb heat and cool down the air inside the home.

Three elements which make up a split central air conditioning system, are:

  • An outdoor condensing unit
  • A matching indoor air handler
  • Ductwork to transfer the cooled air throughout the home
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