How Does Your AC Really Work?

Air conditioners can play a pretty big role in your life, depending on your climate. When your AC breaks down, you might be inclined to call a professional to handle the situation. However, if you have a basic understanding of how your AC works, you might be able to handle the problem yourself. Here is a brief overview of how air conditioners work:

The Basic Principle

Air conditioners make cold air, but how do they do that? After all, you can't spontaneously eliminate heat in a closed system. In other words, it is impossible to simply lower the temperature of air with no byproducts.

To get around this fundamental law of nature, air conditioners (and similarly refrigerators) remove the heat from some air and add that heat to some other air. The colder air is then blown towards the destination, while the hotter air is vented somewhere else, such as outside.

In order to actually transfer the heat, the air conditioner will use a special substance known as a refrigerant. Refrigerants are unique in that they can be easily changed from a gas to a liquid and vice versa. By adding heat to a refrigerant, you can change it from a liquid to a gas. When you then remove that heat (by squeezing the gas), it will change back into a liquid.

The Details

There are three parts of the air conditioner that you should know: the compressor, the condenser, and the evaporator.

  • Compressor: The process begins in the compressor. Gaseous refrigerant enters the compressor and is squeezed until it reaches a higher energy state, which ultimately means a higher temperature. This higher energy gaseous refrigerant is then pushed into the condenser.
  • Condenser: In the condenser, this gas will transfer back to a liquid state. Since this means an overall decrease in the energy of the refrigerant, a large amount of heat is expelled at this stage. The condenser will help remove this heat from the system and resembles a radiator in appearance and function. It is important to note that the refrigerant is still under relatively high pressure, which prevents the refrigerant from expanding into a gas.
  • Evaporator: In the evaporator, the high pressure liquid is given room to expand, which results in a gas, albeit one with relatively low energy. The evaporator is the key step in the actually cooling of your house. A fan will blow air across part of the evaporator, which is quite cold. This air will then enter your house and lower the overall temperature over time. For more information, contact an AC company like Hallmark Service Company.