No matter where you are in North America the summers can get really hot and humid. There is nothing worse than being outside on a day like that. It makes you feel sticky, lethargic and moody. That is why it is so nice when you go home and the minute you walk through the door you feel that cold blast of air conditioning. That feeling you get from the cool air can actually change your entire attitude for the rest of your day. Air conditioning is an amazing thing but not many people really know how it works. Here is a quick overview of how air conditioning actually works.
The Key ingredients to make Cool Air
An air conditioner is a simple yet complicated device all at the same time. There are two main ingredients (other than the equipment itself) that an air conditioner requires in order to produce cool air. These are air and refrigerant.
Air does a variety of tasks in one of these units. Not only is essential for producing cool air but it is also the means of conveyance for that cool air to get to where it needs to go. Air conditioners require so much air you will always see at least one part of them that is exposed to the outside.
The refrigerant goes through a little more complicated process when it comes to producing cool air. The refrigeration line, unlike the air passing through the appliance, is a closed loop system. It has to be in order to make the device cost effective. In order to understand exactly how an air conditioner works you will have to know that liquids absorb heat when they change from their liquid form into a gas and they give off heat when they change from being a gas and go back into liquid form. That in a nutshell describes a large part of how an air conditioner works.
The Refrigerants Journey
This is a brief description of how the refrigerant acts at each stage of the cool air producing process.
- The refrigerant starts out at the compressor where it is a low pressure gas at the time; the pressure on it is increased and it leaves the compressor as a high-pressure gas.
- Next up the refrigerant arrives at the condenser. As the name says the high-pressure refrigerant is then ‘condensed’ back into liquid and heat is the resulting byproduct.
- The liquid, still under high pressure next moves to the expansion valve. By restricting the flow of the liquid refrigerant this valve decreases it pressure.
- The now low-pressure liquid refrigerant next goes to what is called the evaporator. Here the heat is absorbed when the liquid refrigerant once again turns back into gaseous form. The byproduct here is cool air.
Once the air conditioner has done its job then the cool air is moved into the rooms of a home using some of the forced air that this appliance has drawn into the system.