Air Conditioners Work
Air conditioners employ the same operating principles
and basic components as your home refrigerator. An air
conditioner cools your home with a cold indoor coil called
the evaporator. The condenser a hot outdoor coil, releases
the collected heat outside. The evaporator and condenser
coils are serpentine tubing surrounded by aluminum fins.
This tubing is usually made of copper. A pump, called
the compressor, moves a heat transfer fluid (or refrigerant)
between the evaporator and the condenser. The pump forces
the refrigerant through the circuit of tubing and fins
in the coils. The liquid refrigerant evaporates in the
indoor evaporator coil, pulling heat out of indoor air
and thereby cooling the home. The hot refrigerant gas
is pumped outdoors into the condenser where it reverts
back to a liquid giving up its heat to the air flowing
over the condenser's metal tubing and fins.
Most central air conditioning units operate by means
of a split system. That is, they consist of a "hot"
side, or the condensing unit including the condensing
coil, the compressor and the fan which is situated outside
your home, and a "cold" side that is located
inside your home. The cold side consists of an expansion
valve and a cold coil, and it is usually part of your
air handler. The air handler blows air through an evaporator
coil, which cools the air. Then this cool air is routed
throughout your home by means of a series of air ducts.
Air conditioning includes both the cooling and heating
of air. It also cleans the air and controls the moisture
level. An air conditioner is able to cool a building because
it removes heat from indoor and transfers it outdoors.
A chemical refrigerant in the system absorbs the unwanted
heat and pumps it through a system of piping to the outside
coil. The fan, located in the outside unit, blows outside
air over the hot coil, transferring heat from the refrigerant
to the outdoor air.
is the "heart" of the system. The compressor
acts as the pump, the refrigerant flows through the system.
It draws in a low-pressure, low-temperature, refrigerant
in a gaseous state and by compressing this gas, raise
the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant. This
high-pressure, high temperature gas then flows to the
coil is a series of piping with a fan that draws outside
air across the coil. As the refrigerant passes through
the condenser coil and the cooler outside air passes across
the coil, the air absorbs heat from the refrigerant which
causes the refrigerant to condense from a gas to a liquid
state. The high pressure, high-temperature liquid then
reaches the expansion valve.
valve is the "brain" of the system. By sensing
the temperature of the evaporator, or cooling coil, it
allows liquid to pass through a very small orifice, which
causes the refrigerant to expand to a low-pressure, low-temperature
gas. This "cold" refrigerant flows to the evaporator.
is a series of piping connected to a air handler that
blows indoor air across it, causing the coil to absorb
heat from the air. The cooled air is then delivered to
the house through ducting. The refrigerant then flows
back to the compressor where the cycle starts over again.
your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars
than any other system in your home. No matter what kind
of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system you
have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort
by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades
with appropriate insulation, weatherization and thermostat
settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution
output in half. Saving money on your energy bills will
depend on four major factors:
Energy efficiency of your system
Managing system operation
Simple system maintenance