Here's How Your Air Conditioning Unit Actually Works

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Here's How Your Air Conditioning Unit Actually Works

Things are heating up on our planet. Heat-related deaths are steadily increasing, and researchers expect them to do so for the next few decades. According to some researchers, these deaths could increase fivefold in the U.S. by 2080.

Fortunately, researchers don’t also foresee the sudden disappearance of air conditioners. They’re here to stay for a long time.

But here’s an interesting question about our favorite temperature control devices: How does an air conditioner work?

Sure, they spit out air to cool our homes. But what’s the science behind these machines?

Let’s start with the basics and everything else you’ll want to know.

The Basics: How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Before we go into detail about how an AC works, let’s discuss how air conditioners cool our homes on a basic level.

So first thing’s first: Air conditioners don’t just spit out air to keep homes cool. We understand, however, why some people might think that’s the case.

In actuality, air conditioners cool our homes by converting chemicals from one state of matter to another. They convert these chemicals from gas to liquid. Once they convert these chemicals to liquid, they quickly convert them back to gas.

Those chemicals then move the heat in the surrounding the air outside of the building. Thus, ACs have a “cooling” effect on the air.

The Components of an Air Conditioner

Now that you know what’s really going on inside of an air conditioner, let’s find out how an AC unit transfers heat from one place to another. AC units rely on three major components to get the job done:

  • a condenser
  • a compressor
  • an evaporator

These three components aren’t located in one central area. Condensers and compressors are usually found outside of air conditioning systems. Evaporators, on the other hand, are typically located inside of buildings.

Each one of these components works together to complete the chemical process which results in the transference of heat. You can find out what this process looks like in the next section.

How These Components Work Together

So how does each component work together to keep your home or building cool?

The process begins with the compressor. An air conditioner’s fluid enters the compressor as a gas. This gas’ pressure is high, and the compressor squeezes it to increase its temperature.

The fluid then leaves the compressor as hot gas and enters the condenser. While in the condenser, the fluid is cooled and changed back into a liquid.

It then enters the evaporator. At this point, it becomes a gas once again. As it evaporates, it extracts heat from the air around it.

Though there’s a bit more to the process, that’s pretty much how it works. Assuming that your air conditioner works properly and is well-maintained, you should expect it to function similarly.

A Reminder to Keep It Cool

Your air conditioner’s inner workings aside, we’d like to remind you to keep it cool this summer. As things heat up, it’s important to have a functioning air conditioner.

So if you have an AC emergency or are still asking, “how does an air conditioner work?” Don’t hesitate to contact us.

We’d love to have the opportunity to educate you or service your home or business.

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