Have you ever wondered how your air conditioner works? In this article, we explain what’s going on inside an air conditioner that allows it to cool your room and elevate your comfort.
Let’s start from the moment you switch your air conditioner on. When you flip that switch, the thermostat control inside your air conditioner springs into action, sending 120 volts of alternating current to two different components: the compressor and the fan motor.
The compressor is basically a pump that compresses refrigerant into the condenser coils at the rear end of the unit. It’s a gas at first, but the condenser coils actually condense it into a hot liquid. The resulting heat is then dispersed as the liquid passes from the condenser coils and the capillary tube on into the evaporator coils.
The evaporator coils can be found at the front end of the air conditioner. This is the part of the cycle where the refrigerant liquid becomes a gas once again. If you’ve been following along closely, you’ll be able to guess exactly how this takes place: the refrigerant cools! The coils then cool as a result.
The final part of the cycle takes place when the gas passes through a suction line attached to the compressor, where it’s changed back into a liquid.
While all this is happening, your room wouldn’t see much benefit if not for the fan motor. This is because for your room to be cooled, your air conditioner needs to suck in air from the room, cooling it as it passes over the evaporator coils. And just like that, you’ve got cool air!
The unit keeps itself cool with the condenser fan. As you might imagine, the condenser fan’s job is to blow air from outdoors over the condenser’s coils to cool them.
To get the temperature just right in your room, you probably know that you use either the thermostat switch or an electronic control board. But how does the air conditioner know when it’s cooled the room to your liking?
This is accomplished with the sensing bulb or electronic sensor, which measures the temperature of the air in the room as it passes into the evaporator coils. Once the temperature in the room reaches desired levels, the thermostat shuts down the compressor.
One more thing to note: water tends to collect inside air conditioning units. This isn’t a sign your unit is malfunctioning – it’s a normal part of the process. To keep this water from running into your room, tip the unit back slightly when you’re setting it up in your window. The water will drip outside (and hopefully not onto someone’s head below).