How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

The actual process behind the how an air conditioner works is the transfer of heat. The air conditioner gathers heat from one area of the system and moves it to another. Removing the heat creates cold, and that cold is pumped through your home to keep you comfortable. To make this process happen, the system has several important components that all must work together to cool the air inside your home.

Air conditioners come in a variety of styles and sizes, but they all perform on a similar simple principle. An air conditioner provides cold air inside your home by actually removing heat and humidity from the indoor air. It returns the cooled air to the indoor space, and transfers the unwanted heat and humidity outside.

An air conditioner or cooling system uses a specialized chemical called refrigerant. The machine has three main mechanical components:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser coil
  • Evaporator coil
How Does an Air Conditioner Work

These components work together to quickly convert the refrigerant from gas to liquid and back again.

The compressor and condenser are usually located on the outside air portion of the air conditioner. The evaporator is located on the inside the house, sometimes as part of a furnace. That’s the main component that heats your house.

The working fluid gets there at the compressor as a cool low-pressure gas. The compressor squeezes the fluid. This bags the molecule of the fluid closer together (the closer the molecules, the higher its energy and temperature). The working fluid leaves the compressor as a hot, high pressure gas and flows into the condenser.

When the working fluid leaves the condenser, its temperature is much cooler and it has changed from a gas to a liquid under high pressure. The liquid goes into the evaporator through a very tiny, narrow hole. On the other side, the liquid’s pressure drops. When it does it begins to evaporate into a gas. As the liquid changes to gas and evaporates, it extracts heat from the air around it. The heat in the air is needed to separate the molecules of the fluid from a liquid to a gas.

The evaporator also has metal fins to help in exchange the thermal energy with the surrounding air. By the time the working fluid leaves the evaporator, it is a cool, low pressure gas. It then returns to the compressor to begin its trip all over again. Connected to the evaporator is a fan that circulates the air inside the house to blow across the evaporator fins. Hot air is lighter than cold air, so the hot air in the room rises to the top of a room.

There is a vent there where air is sucked into the air conditioner and goes down the ducts. The hot air is used to cool the gas in the evaporator. As the heat is removed from the air, the air is cooled. It is then blown into the house through other ducts.

This cycles continues again and again until your home reached the desired temperature you want, as programmed by your thermostat setting. And that’s how your home air conditioning system works.

About Mas Broto

Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.