How Does a Central Air Conditioner Work?

A central air conditioner is a terrific investment in your home.  If you are looking at investing in one you will definitely find value in learning more about how it works.

For more information, we recommend you check out our air conditioner faq for answers to other commonly-asked questions.

A Basic Explanation of How an Air Conditioner Works

An air conditioner uses coolant to remove heat from warm air, and then it sends that air through your air ducts via your furnace fan.

A more technical explanation is this: through a series of chemical and physical reactions, the temperature of the air surrounding the air conditioner coil is reduced.  It does this via coolants that convert from a gas to a liquid and then back to a gas again.  When the coolant converts into a gas it absorbs and disburses heat.

The coolant used, also called a refrigerant, is the main mechanism used to cool the air.  The fan and big blower that sits outside of your home are only there to actually move the air around the coolant and facilitate the reaction.

Central air conditioners have specialized ducts designed to deliver the hot air to the heat absorbing refrigerants.

The process of taking the air to the evaporator coil effectively cools of the air which is then sent back into the home. The gaseous refrigerant then travels through the compressor, which squeezes the refrigerant molecules closer together, creating heat and energy. The heated refrigerant then goes through the condensing coil which acts like a radiator, dissipating heat outside the home. It is at this point the refrigerant changes back into its liquid form.  The refrigerant then passes through a small hole back into the evaporator coil where the process starts over again.

It goes without saying that proper maintenance of your air conditioner is vital in order to ensure a long and efficient life.