man relaxing in air conditioning

How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The temperatures are climbing to record highs around the country and many homes are utilizing some kind of air conditioner to combat the seasonal heat. Although we are all thankful that your air conditioner runs, the team at Triton HVAC & Refrigeration in Colorado Springs would like to tell you how it works.

The Basics

There’s a lot of science regarding keeping your living space cool. Your air conditioner operates in a similar way to your refrigerator, but your AC has a more difficult job to manage. Both your fridge and AC cool with a reoccurring loop of refrigerant, in your air conditioner this refrigerant loops from inside to outside your home. This refrigerant quickly changes 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 takes in heat from your indoor air and expands back into vapor. This vapor then transfers 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 elements to your air conditioner unit: a compressor, an evaporator coil, the condensing coil and an expansion valve.

The evaporator coil is the location 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 throughout the cold evaporator coil and the heat is separated from the air. This cooled air is then released 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 increases 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 completes your physics lesson of the day…your air conditioner runs on an endless loop of science. We realize that it’s not as top-priority to you how it works, but that it’s working. If you’d like to discuss staying cool and comfortable in Colorado Springs give us a call at 719-332-3458 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.