How Does Air Conditioning Work

Air conditioning is a very important part of modern homes and commercial buildings but have you ever stopped to think of how air conditioning systems work? Air conditioning works on the basic principle of removing heat from one area, expelling the hot air to the atmosphere and replacing it with chilled dry air. It makes use of a physical law of phase conversion where a liquid when converted into a gas is able to absorb heat.

The heat absorption process through phase conversion is made possible by forcing special chemical compounds to evaporate and condense repeatedly in a closed coil system. Air conditioning parts Air conditioning systems have five major components that interact to make possible the act of removing heat from indoor air and expelling it to the outdoor environment. In any air condition system, the components that will be present include;

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Evaporator coil
  • Chemical refrigerant
  • Blower Basic operation of an air conditioning system

The air conditioning mechanism is a cycle that operates repeatedly enabling indoor air to be consistently cool. The major mechanism on which most central air conditioning systems operate is the split system. In this system, air conditioners have a ‘cold’ and a ‘hot’ side. The ‘hot’ side is essentially the condensing unit which consists of the compressor, the condenser coil and the fan. This is situated outside the environment whose air is to be conditioned. The ‘cold’ side on the other hand consists of an expansion valve and an evaporator coil located inside the environment whose air is to be cooled. As aforementioned, in order for the air conditioning system to work effectively, all the major components must operate in harmony.

The air conditioning process starts with the compressor which is the central part of the system and also the most bulky part of the air conditioning unit. The compressor draws in the refrigerant which is a low pressure low temperature gas and then compresses it to raise the temperature and pressure. The refrigerant will then flow through the condenser coil. The condenser coil has a fan that will draw outdoor air across the coil as the refrigerant passes through the coil. In this process, the outdoor air will remove absorb heat from the refrigerant causing it to condense to a liquid. The refrigerant will then proceed to the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is interconnected with a furnace that functions to blow indoor air across the coil. As indoor air is being blown across the coil, the coil is absorbing heat from the indoor air and cooling it then releasing it to the house via a series of ducts. The refrigerant will then move back to the compressor to start the cycle again.