How Does Air Conditioning Work: A Brief Guide

how does air conditioning work

As you change your AC air filters or clean the air ducts, do you sometimes wonder, “How does air conditioning work, exactly?” If so, we’ve got you covered. In this brief guide, we explain how modern air conditioning systems work to cool your home. Knowing these basics is especially important if you’re considering investing in air conditioner installation in Denver.

The Basics

Air conditioners come in various shapes and sizes. Still, most operate on the same basic principle as the first modern AC system invented by the electrical engineer Willis Carrier in 1902.

So, how does air conditioning work? First, your AC unit removes heat and humidity from your indoor air. The system then blows the cooled air back into your home or other closed space and transfers the excess heat and humidity outside.

The Main Components of Modern AC Systems

Standard air conditioning systems contain a special gas called refrigerant and three main mechanical components:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser coil
  • Evaporator coil

The compressor increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant gas and sends it to the condenser coil. The condenser coil converts the refrigerant into a liquid, which then enters the evaporator coil. Here, the refrigerant evaporates, causing the coil to cool down.

Next, a fan blows indoor air onto the cooled evaporator coil. The coil absorbs the heat from the air. The cool air then circulates back into your home, and the heated evaporated refrigerant travels to the compressor. The system releases excess heat outdoors as the refrigerant again converts into a liquid.

This cycle of converting the refrigerant from a gas into a liquid and back again continues until your home reaches the target temperature.

Types of AC Systems

According to the Department of Energy, three-quarters of all homes in the U.S. have air conditioners. Many of these are split-system air conditioners, also known as central air. A split-system unit normally has:

  • An outdoor unit with a fan, compressor, and condenser coil
  • An indoor unit with an evaporator coil and fan to circulate the cool air
  • Copper tubing connecting the indoor and outdoor units
  • Ductwork that allows air to travel from the indoor unit into your home and back
  • A thermostat that monitors and controls indoor air temperature

Packaged systems are central air conditioners that house the compressor, blower fan, evaporator coil, and condensing coil all in one unit. They are suitable for when you don’t have enough space for the indoor unit of a split-system AC.

Ductless air conditioners aren’t central air systems: They only cool specific areas within your home. Because they are more compact and don’t rely on ductwork to blow air, ductless systems require less invasive installation.

Have More Questions? Call Denver’s AC Installation and Maintenance Experts.

Now you can answer the question “How does air conditioning work?” But there’s a lot more that goes into installing and servicing your AC system. If you have more questions or are interested in exploring our AC installation and AC tune-up services in Denver, CO, call 888 Heating and Air Conditioning at (303) 770-2776 or contact us online.