Many homeowners have a centralized air conditioning system that their family relies on to remain comfortable, even during the hottest days that summer has to offer. However, if you ask these homeowners how their air conditioning system works, many can’t tell you. Don’t be one of those homeowners, as understanding the inner workings of your home air conditioning system can allow you to take better care of it.
Start by Understanding the Parts
Before you can learn just how air conditioners works, you need to learn the various components that are a part of the system. The most commonly known part of a home air conditioning system is the thermostat. This is the part of the unit that you adjust to set the indoor temperature that you desire. Ductwork is another familiar component that is made up of large metal venting that runs throughout the walls in your home and is connected to the vents that you see in each room.
Your home air conditioning unit has both indoor and outdoor components that work together to remove hot air from your home. The outside unit is called a condenser unit, and it houses the fan, compressor, and condenser coil. The indoor unit is comprised of an evaporator coil and fan to disperse the air. There is copper tubing filled with refrigerant that runs between the indoor and outdoor units, which is regulated by the expansion valve.
It’s All About Heat Transfer
The main objective of any air conditioning system is to remove the heat from the interior of a home and transfer that heat to the outdoors. In this sense, your air conditioner works much like a refrigerator. The entire cooling process starts with the thermostat. Whether you manually turn the set temperature down or your thermostat senses that the indoor temperature is above the set temperature, it will signal to the air conditioning unit that it’s time to turn on.
Hot Air Enters the Unit
When your air conditioner starts the cooling process, it will use an internal fan. This fan will pull hot air from inside of your home through the return vents. As the air is directed towards the evaporator coils, it will pass through the air filter. This filter collects harmful dust, debris, and other allergens.
The evaporator coils that the air passes over are filled with a substance known as refrigerant. Initially, the refrigerant is in a liquid form. As the hot air passes over the evaporator coil, the warmth from the air turns the refrigerant liquid into a gas. This essentially works to cool the air as it passes over the evaporator coils.
Cool Air Is Dispersed
Once the air passes over the evaporator coil and becomes cooled off, the internal blower fan disperses the air through the ducts into the various living areas of the home. In order for this process to continue, the refrigerant needs to be returned to a liquid state. This is where the outdoor unit comes into play.
The refrigerant, which is now in a gas state due to the hot air passing over it, travels through the copper tubing to your outdoor unit. As the refrigerant enters the outdoor unit, it passes over condenser coils. A large fan in your outdoor unit pulls outside air over the condenser coils. This allows the heat energy in the gas refrigerant to escape into the outdoor air as it passes over the condenser coils.
As the heat is released from the refrigerant, it turns back into a liquid state. This liquid refrigerant than travels back into your indoor unit via the copper tubing between the outdoor and indoor units. The refrigerant passes through an expansion valve that is responsible for regulating the amount of refrigerant that enters the evaporator coils.
Refrigerant Is the Key
For any air conditioning unit to work, it needs to have refrigerant. This is a powerful substance that consistently changes states. It starts out as a liquid inside of your indoor unit and then turns into a gas as it moves to the outdoor unit. Once in the outdoor unit, it’s turned back into a liquid. The refrigerant is transported back inside, and the process starts all over again.
Common Types of AC Units
While all air conditioning units work in the same way, there are different types of units that are available. The three most popular include split-systems, packaged systems, and ductless systems. You should have a clear understanding of what each type of system is so that you can make an appropriate decision on which system you want to purchase for your home.
Split-System Air Conditioners
Split-system air conditioners are the most common in homes. These systems have both indoor and outdoor components that work to cool the air inside of your home. The indoor unit is typically comprised of a furnace or fan coil that houses the evaporator coil and blower fan. This works as a dual purpose for heating the home in the wintertime as well. You’ll find split-system air conditioners available in single-stage, double-stage, and multi-stages.
Packaged Air Conditioners
Packaged air conditioners are reserved for homes that have little space. When there isn’t enough room in an attic or closet, a packaged air conditioning system can be used. This is an all-in-one unit. Instead of having an outdoor compressor unit with condenser coils, these components are included inside the main unit. These packaged air conditioning units are available in single-stage, two-stage, and multi-stage units.
Ductless Air Conditioners
One common type of air conditioning unit that is making waves is the ductless air conditioner. These systems are great for older homes that don’t have existing ductwork already installed. This saves the homeowner the trouble of having to add ducting to all of the walls. However, they will need to install an indoor unit in each main room of their home to provide the necessary cooling that they desire. Ductless units have a variety of indoor units that are connected via copper tubing with the outdoor compressor unit.
A Quick Recap of How Air Conditioners Work
You’ve learned a lot of information throughout the article. To help solidify this information, we’re going to go over it one last time very quickly. The entire air conditioning process works by your thermostat sending a signal to start the system. The internal fan will pull from the return ducts and direct it over the evaporator coil. The heat will join with the refrigerant inside of the coils and turn it into a gas.
The cooled air is dispersed back into your home. The refrigerant gas is transported outside to the condenser coils. The outdoor fan blows air over the unit and removes the heat from the refrigerant. This turns the refrigerant back into a liquid state. The refrigerant is returned via the copper tubing back into the evaporator coils through the expansion valve. And the cooling process starts all over again.
Quality AC Services
If you need professional help with your air conditioning system, it’s time to call Black-Haak in Greenville, WI, today. Our technicians are fully certified and come with years of supporting the Fox Valley community and the surrounding area. We can assist with all of your cooling, heating, electrical, and plumbing needs. Give us a call today to learn more.