How Does Air Conditioning Work?
An air conditioner is a standard appliance in interior comfort. The Energy Information Administration reports that AC units account for almost 20 percent of yearly electricity consumption in the US. At A-1 Mechanical & Electric, we believe that knowledge is power: The more you know about the appliances you are using, the more effectively you can operate them.
There are Four Main Components of Your Air Conditioner:
1. Evaporator – receives the liquid refrigerant
2. Condenser – facilitates the heat transfer
3. Expansion valve – regulates the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator
4. Compressor – pump that pressurizes the refrigerant
The refrigeration cycle inside you AC unit is as follows. It starts as a liquid and then goes through phase conversion to gas. Through this conversion, it absorbs heat. It is then compressed and pushed through another phase transition back to liquid. Refrigerant is a chemical that allows this phase conversion to occur at low temperatures. This conversion cycle that creates what we know as modern air conditioning.
Fans inside the unit blow warm air over the evaporator. The refrigerant inside picks up the temperature of the air. As it absorbs the heat, it turns into a vapor. The unit then blows the cool air out, while the hot refrigerant vapor passes into the compressor. This vapor gets compressed to an even higher pressure and temperature. Next, the vapor flows over the condenser, which turns it back to a liquid, and the heat is radiated away.
Basically, the heat from the air is absorbed by the refrigerant and carried through the AC system to be pushed out the other side, while the cooled air is pushed inside.
An air conditioner also works as a humidifier and dehumidifier. You may have a moisture collection pan on your unit. As the refrigerant absorbs heat it also absorbs the moisture from the air.