A Simple Guide On How Does Air Conditioning Work

Trying to understand the ins and outs of air-conditioning is always a challenge, but by thinking of it as a sort of enormous refrigerator for very large spaces (rather than, say, a very big fan) it starts to make a little bit more sense. Like a refrigerator, air-conditioning takes advantage of science: converting liquid to gas so that heat is absorbed and air is cooled. With air conditioning, this process just happens over and over again.

Heat absorption

Scientists figured out that by converting liquid into gas, you get heat absorption, and this is what the entire premise of air conditioning is built on – simple heat absorption and then repeat and then repeat. By allowing this conversion to take place over and over again, air conditioners are basically absorbing the heat from inside a closed space (i.e the home) and putting it on the outside, making the closed space colder or warmer. Thus the concept of “recycled air”.

On a side note, thinking about the air conditioner as a fan is not entirely wrong, as it is always special fitted with fans as a way to pump this cooled or heated air around the desired space.

Thinking about the air conditioner as a fan is not entirely wrong, as it is always special fitted with fans as a way to pump this cooled or heated air around the desired space.

The three-part system

The device is generally composed of three unique parts: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator. If you have ever paid close attention to an air conditioning installation, you will notice that there is both an indoor and outdoor part – the outdoor makes the louder noise and drips water on passers-by. This is because the compressor and the condenser can be found on the outside, while the evaporator is what you see on the inside.

The first step

Think of the process as a major change taking place: the change from a cool, low-pressure liquid into a high-pressure gas. The first step in the process is that the working fluid (at this point a gas) arrives at the compressor and is then squeezed by the compressor from the outside, which presses the fluid molecules together with varying pressure. The tighter these molecules are squeezed together, the higher its temperature will be. This is the basis of air-conditioning.

technician fixing an air conditioning compressor - guide on how does air conditioning work

technician fixing an air conditioning compressor

The condenser and transformation into gas

After being compressed, the fluid is pumped into the condenser, where devices that look like metal fins function in the way that a car radiator works and removes portions of the heat by helping it dissipate. This means that upon leaving the condenser, the air is a great deal cooler, while having transformed into a liquid thanks to the heightened pressure. Once this new liquid moves into the inside of the house (the evaporator) its temperature drops even more as it is pushed through a highly narrow hole. As its pressure drops, it starts to evaporate into a gas (this being the clever conversion mentioned above).

The last stage (before the beginning)

This is where the heat absorption occurs. As the evaporation occurs, the molecules literally absorb heat from the space. The fluid leaves the evaporator in very cool, low-pressure gas form. Upon making its journey around the room it heads back to the compressor to repeat the process for another time.

So how does air conditioning work?

Well, in short, in can be viewed as a complex and highly elegant cycle by which working fluid is refrigerated, is then converted to a gas, heat is absorbed, compressed, turned back into a liquid, before the entire process starts again from the beginning, which could potentially go on forever. This is why thinking of air conditioning is always best done by thinking of it as a cycle.

For more information about air conditioners and any related topics, contact Infiniti Air today.