What is Air Conditioning, And How Does it Work?

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Ever heard the words, “condenser” or “evaporator,” during a visit from your friendly HVAC technician? You nod in agreement and smile when he says he’ll get you a quote to fix it, but what does it all mean? What is this guy actually talking about?

Here’s the low-down. Air conditioning systems are designed to lower the air’s temperature and humidity. Most air conditioning units cool the indoor air through a process called the refrigeration cycle and some use evaporation or free cooling to reduce the temperature of the room.

Major Components

An air conditioner system is comprised of many components. Here are the seven major components used in all A/C systems:

The Refrigeration Cycle – How Does It Work?

Before we talk about the refrigeration cycle, let’s talk about boiling water. This will help us understand the basics of thermodynamics.

When the liquid water absorbs enough heat, the water turns into a gas. All heat tends to move from an object with a higher temperature to an object at a lower temperature. In the case of the boiling water, when the water vapor loses enough heat through contact with the cooler air or a cool surface, it turns back into a liquid. The energy, or heat of a system, tends to diminish over time.

Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning units don’t “add cooling.” Rather, the refrigeration cycle removes heat from the air inside the building. The cold refrigerant, located in the evaporator coil, absorbs the heat/energy from the warm, inside air that passes over the coil. Once absorbed, this heat and energy are released outside as the cooler atmosphere absorbs this heat coming from the condensing unit. The hot refrigerant cools off as it releases heat to the outside atmosphere and it turns back into a cold liquid, and the process starts all over.

So there you have it, today’s fun fact: Air conditioning doesn’t actually blow cool air into the room, it removes heat and humidity! Learn more about The History of Air Conditioning #science #themoreyouknow 

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