How Does My Air Conditioner Work?

The air conditioner is a standard appliance in home comfort. The Energy Information Administrations reports that 87% of homes have and AC unit and It accounts for almost 20% of yearly electricity consumption in the US. At Pinellas Comfort System we believe the knowledge is power, the more you know about the appliances you are using the more effectively you can operate them.

The modern air conditioner was invented in 1902 by Willis Havilard Carrier. It was invented to solve the humidity problem at a printing plant in Brooklyn. The concept of using chilled water to cool down certain areas predates his invention by centuries, however it is Carrier who is credited with inventing a system of chilled coils to maintain and constant temperature.

There are four main components of your air conditioner:

  • Evaporator – receives the liquid refrigerant
  • Condenser – facilitates the heat transfer
  • Expansion valve – regulates the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator
  • Compressor – pump that pressurizes the refrigerant

The refrigerant cycle inside your AC unit is as follows. It starts as a liquid, it goes through a 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 and it is this conversion cycle that creates what we know as modern AC. The appliance forces this conversion of occur over and over again within a close coil system.

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 from the air it turns into a vapor. The refrigerant goes from being a cold liquid to a hot vapor. The unit blows the cool air out while the hot refrigerant vapor passes into the compressor and gets compressed to an even higher pressure and temp. This then 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 down air is pushed inside.

And 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.

You should have your air conditioning unit serviced regularly. Call us today at (727) 315-0791 or request service online today. We are standing by to answer any of your questions about your air conditioner.

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