How do Air Conditioners Work?

Air conditioning systems help keep your home cool. But many home and business owners do not understand just how their air conditioning systems work. And that is unfortunate. Knowing how your air conditioning system works can help you know exactly when to call in the repair and replacement professionals. Let's go over the air conditioning process.

The Two Main Air Conditioning Cycles

The air conditioning process can be broken down into two main cycles of operation. They are:
  • Evaporation
  • Compression

The Evaporation Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The evaporation cycle in modern air conditioning is the actual cycle in which all the cooling is done. During this cycle, the air conditioning system will pull air in from the inside of your building and pass it through the evaporator coil. This coil has very cold liquid refrigerant chemical running through it. When the air passes over the coil, the heat from the air is transferred to the refrigerant. This transforms the liquid refrigerant into a gas while cooling the air in the process. Once the air is cooled it is then distributed throughout your building by fans and ductwork (except in the case of ductless split air conditioning systems where the cooled air is dispensed directly into the space to be cooled without any ductwork).

The Compression Cycle in Modern Air Conditioning

The compression cycle in modern air conditioning actually doesn't involve cooling the air at all. During the compression cycle, your air conditioner takes the gaseous refrigerant from the evaporation cycle and compresses it back into a liquid and then moved back to the evaporator coil to start the process all over again. During the compression cycle, your air conditioning system uses both a condensing coil and a compressor. The system runs the gaseous refrigerant through the condensation coil and passes outside air through it. This first stage in the process saps the heat from the refrigerant and transfers it to the outside air. Then, after the condensing coil has started the process, the compressor itself finishes the job of turning the gaseous refrigerant back to a liquid.
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