How do Air Conditioners Work?

Many years ago, having central air installed in a home was cost prohibitive for the average family.  Only very well-off people could afford this luxury.  Advanced technology has made central air conditioning more affordable and today this luxury is looked upon as a necessity.

Most people just set their thermostat and take it for granted as they enjoy the cool air on a hot day.  Others wonder just how it works.  It’s easy to understand how the furnace works by using energy to heat the air and then blowing it through the duct work, but how do we make air cooler? 

The answer has to do with the concept of evaporation. When evaporated liquid turns into a gas, it absorbs heat, sort of like when sweat evaporates on our body, taking heat with it to cool us down. 

With an air conditioner the evaporation occurs when a refrigerant is converted from liquid to gas and back to liquid in a continuing cycle.  The chemical compound allows the refrigerant to convert to gas at low temperatures, unlike water, which must be very hot to convert to gas.

The outdoor air conditioning unit works with the furnace to cool the air in the home.  The cooling process takes place within the main air handler unit, which houses the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil converts the liquid refrigerant into a gas to create evaporation which removes heat.  The central air handler blows over the evaporator coil to cool it then sends it through the duct work to cool the home.

Once it has evaporated the refrigerant (in gas form) is moved through the system to the outdoor air conditioning unit where the compressor squeezes the gas to convert it back to a liquid, which allows it to cycle through the system again.  While evaporation removes heat, compression creates heat, so it makes sense that this part is outside where a fan expels the heat into the air.  Read AC and Heating Systems to learn more.

Appliance Parts Today has been in business since March of 2003, providing area residents and service technicians a full line of air conditioning parts.  While some AC parts suppliers will only sell to licensed contractors, Appliance Parts Today specializes in serving the DIY AC repair customer.  The local air conditioning parts store also carries Goodman air conditioning parts and their friendly staff is happy to provide AC repair and maintenance advice when needed.