How Does Your AC Function?

Understand the workings of your AC air conditioner and central air conditioning system. Trust Sandium for reliable air conditioning service and expert knowledge today!

Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
How Does Your AC Function?

Air conditioners have made tremendous advances over the decades. It was originally created by William Carrier in 1902 for offsetting humidity. However, Carrier saw that his invention could cool air and decided to work more on it. The modern air conditioner kept a lot of original mechanics in place. This post will help you understand how air conditioners work and not just in Northern California.

Air Conditioner Basics

The original air conditioner was nothing more than steam coils and a fan. Carrier used cold water in the steam coils and the fan was used for blowing air over the coils. Excess warmth and humidity were pulled out as indoor air went over the cold coils. Modern air conditioners may seem a lot different, but they use the same principle.

Key AC Components

Every central cooling system has 6 critical parts. While an HVAC system requires more than these 6 components to function at an efficient and high level, it will not be able to cool without these core parts.

  1. Thermostat: This is responsible for telling the system what to do. It sets the temperature and maintains the heating or cooling cycle. It also turns on the HVAC system.
  2. Evaporator: This part is located inside the furnace. It comprises of a set of metal coils which cool the refrigerant. Heat and humidity in a particular space is absorbed by the cold refrigerant.
  3. Blower: Temperature treated air is circulated in a space through the blower.
  4. Condenser: The condenser is your central air system’s outdoor half. The condenser is responsible for taking heat from the evaporator and sending it back to the outdoor atmosphere.
  5. Compressor: Compressor sends the refrigerant to and from the condenser and furnace. This is a working liquid that is responsible for pulling heat from the indoor air.
  6. Fan: Condenser fan functions in two ways. It expels heat in the outdoor atmosphere and stops the condenser from overheating.

Air Conditioner Mechanism

All central air systems make use of two machines for cooling a home. The indoor furnace and the outdoor condenser. These work together for recycling air in the home to make it cool and keep it safe. The first thing the HVAC system will do when you tell the thermostat to cool your home is to pull air from inside the house.

This air will travel through the ductwork and to the furnace. Warm air gets cooled by refrigerant when it meets the furnace. Liquid refrigerant is pumped in the evaporator coil and is cooled to a degree that it turns to gas. The gas pulls humidity and heat from the warm air.

Essentially, an air conditioner doesn’t work to cool air from inside the house, but removes humidity and heat. When newly cooled air is sent through the blower inside the house, refrigerant gets pushed out to the condenser. The refrigerant, by now, is a very hot vapor form. It is compressed by the compressor to turn back into liquid.

The heat transfer process while turning gaseous refrigerant into liquid form takes place in the condenser coil. This heat is released in the outdoor atmosphere by the condenser unit. The process gets repeated till the air conditioner is in cooling mode and pauses in between cycles. 

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