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How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Posted by Empire Blog at 1:32 am on April 28, 2015

How an air conditioner works

Ever wonder how an air conditioner works to cool your home? An air conditioner is a pretty complex machine made up of quite a few moving parts. Here are the parts and how they all work together to cool your home.

The Parts of an Air Conditioner

An air conditioner is made up of:

  • Refrigerant liquid
  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Heat exchanger
  • Fan
  • Thermostat

While it doesn’t seem like much, these parts all need to work in conjunction to cool your home. How do they do it? Let’s find out.

A Quick Chemistry Refresher

You probably learned in your high school chemistry class that if a gas or liquid is held in a constant volume and the pressure goes down, the temperature will also go down. If you don’t remember that, just think of using a can of compressed air. When you go to spray the air out of the can, the can gets colder. That’s because the pressure inside of the can is going down while the volume of the can stays the same. It is this very simple concept that makes your air conditioner work.

From Compressed Air to Air Compressors

Since you really don’t want to have to go putting cans of air into your AC unit every few minutes to cool your house, your air conditioner has some more parts that can make the cooling happen like it does with the compressed air.

Your AC unit is filled with a liquid refrigerant, which is actually very similar to what is in your refrigerator. That liquid is the same as the compressed air in the can. It is what is going to change in pressure while being held at a constant volume in order to create the lower temperatures.

The first thing that happens is the refrigerant goes into the compressor where its pressure increases. This also makes its temperature increase as well. You can tell this is the case because the back of your AC unit is hot.

The compressor then sprays the hot compressed liquid through an expander that decreases the pressure and the temperature of the refrigerant. This makes the tubing that the refrigerant passes through cold. The fan then blows air over these cold tubes (the heat exchanger). Heat is removed from the air and put back into the cold liquid,  making your room cooler.

If you are having issues with your system, the Atlanta air conditioning experts at Empire HVAC are here to help. Give us a call today for an air conditioner repair, replacement or just simple maintenance.

Image Courtesy of: Creative Commons