How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Many homes throughout Chesterfield, MO rely on air conditioning systems to cool their homes. These systems involve many moving pieces and parts that work together to provide relief from the heat. Air conditioners don’t chill the air or generate cool air, instead they transfer the air outside of the home. The HVAC professionals at Chesterfield explains how an air conditioner works and the difference between the operation of various types of air conditioning systems.

Important Air Conditioner Components

If you have a central air conditioner, you have a big unit that is outside your home. This outdoor unit works with indoor HVAC units like your furnace, ductwork, and thermostat to spread the cool air throughout your home. Air conditioners work by extracting the heat from a space and transferring it outside the home.

The air conditioning process starts with the thermostat. The thermostat senses the current temperature of the air inside and controls the indoor unit (typically a furnace or fan coil) that houses the evaporator coil and fan to circulate the cooled air through your ductwork. Your indoor unit is connected with tubing to the outdoor unit, which houses a fan condenser coil, and compressor. The tubing between the two units allows the refrigerant to flow between them. An expansion valve regulates the amount of refrigerant that goes into the evaporator coil. Once the thermostat senses that the indoor air in the home has reached the desired temperature, it will turn off the indoor and outdoor units.

The Air Conditioning Process

Now that we know all the pieces and parts of the air conditioner, how does an air conditioner work? First, warm air circulates over the indoor unit and passes over the evaporator coils which contain liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs heat within the air to lower the temperature. When the liquid refrigerant absorbs heat, it turns into a gas. The gas travels through the refrigerant lines to the outdoor unit.

Once the refrigerant gas reaches the outdoor unit, it is compressed. The compressor moves the refrigerant between the evaporator coil and the condenser and forces the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins in the coils. The compressor reverts the refrigerant gas into a liquid again and a large fan pulls outdoor air through the outdoor coil rejecting the heat absorbed in the house.

Types of Air Conditioners

There are a few types of air conditioning units, but they all work very similarly.

Split Systems

Central air conditioning often is composed of both indoor and outdoor units. As we described above, the indoor unit is often the furnace, while the outdoor unit is the air conditioner. However, a ductless split system can consist of a ductless mini-split air handler inside and an outdoor unit, often a heat pump. This system does not require any ductwork to circulate air in the home but instead blows out of the air handler.

Packaged Systems

Packaged air conditioners are common in commercial properties or buildings that don’t have the space to put an indoor unit. They are often mounted on the roof or on the side of the building. A packaged system holds both parts of the indoor and outdoor units found in a split system. A packaged air conditioner will pull warm air from the home, through the return air ducts into the evaporator coil, and then return into the home through the supply ducts, while excess heat is released through the condenser coil.

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners are like packaged air conditioners, in that they have all the components they need in one condensed package. When you have a window air conditioner, half of it needs to be sticking outside the home so it can release the hot air from the condenser coil.

Call Chesterfield Service For More Information About Air Conditioner Systems

No matter which air conditioning system your home has, they all work relatively the same. Some systems have their components spread out more throughout the home, while others contain all the necessary equipment in one neat package. Chesterfield Service is proud to provide quality service to your home’s air conditioning system when something doesn’t seem to be working right. Don’t let problems persist, the sooner you fix them, the sooner your home will be comfortable again. Call Chesterfield Service today to schedule an air conditioning service appointment.