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How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

outside residential air conditioning unit by a building
  1. Refrigerant is sent inside the home to the evaporator coils.
  2. A blower sucks in all hot air and passes it through the refrigerant.
  3. The refrigerant absorbs the heat and cools the air.
  4. The now cold air is pushed out into the home by the blower.
  5. The evaporator coils circulate the refrigerant back into a compressor
  6. The compressor turns the refrigerant into a high pressure gas.
  7. The refrigerant is then passed through condenser coils, which turn it into a liquid.
  8. Refrigerant is passed through an expansion valve.
  9. The expansion valve gets rid of all the heat and turns the refrigerant cold.
  10. Refrigerant is then pushed back inside to cool the home again.

How does refrigerant work?

To keep your home in the same cool state at all times, you need a fluid that evaporates and condenses fast. Refrigerant does just that. It works faster than water, making it more efficient at cooling your home.

Refrigerant transfers heat to the outside condenser coil in a gaseous state. The heat transfers via chemical reaction caused by a compressor that compresses the refrigerant.

The compressor turns the refrigerant gas into a refrigerant liquid. When the compressor does this, it makes the refrigerant cool again. Once the refrigerant is in a cooled liquid form, it is sent inside to the evaporator coil.

When the refrigerant is in the evaporator coils, warm air passes through it via the blower. The coils help the refrigerant take in the hot air, evaporating it from a liquid to a gas.

Once the air inside the home passes through the evaporator coils, it is cooled. It gets circulated back into the house for your comfort.

When the refrigerant is turned back into a gas, it gets taken back to the outside unit. There, the refrigerant gets passed through the compressor.

The compressor heats up and pressurizes the refrigerant even more. From here, the compressor sends the hot air to the condensing coils.

The condensing coils expel the heat from the refrigerant, sending it out of the home. The expulsion of heat from the refrigerant condenses the gas into a liquid.

However, the liquid is not cold enough, which is why it is pushed through an expansion valve. The expansion tool does not cool down the liquid; rather, it expands the fluid.

The expansion valve regulates how much refrigerant is introduced into the house. By spreading out the refrigerant, it cools it down in the same process.

When the refrigerant exits the expansion valve, it goes back into the house, where it repeats the cycle again.