Air conditioners and refrigerators have many similarities. In fact, the only difference between the two is that refrigerators only cool a small enclosed space while an AC cools a large open space. So, how do air conditioners work? Read on to find out.
Components of an AC
Like refrigerators, air conditioners have a compressor, refrigerant liquid, refrigerant piping, fans and a thermostat. Each of these components is used for a different purpose. For instance, the thermostat is responsible for switching the system on and off depending on the difference between the actual room temperature and the reference temperature. Refrigerator piping connects the two ends of the compressor and carries the refrigerant throughout the cooling system. The fans are responsible for driving air into the indoor wall-mounted unit for cooling as well as through the outdoor unit to cool the refrigerant and take away the heat. The compressor is responsible for compressing the refrigerant into a liquid and keeping it under pressure. Lastly, the refrigerant is the working fluid. It absorbs heat from the surroundings and takes it to the compressor coils for cooling.
How Air Conditioners Work
Air conditioners are able to cool a room because of a physical law, which states that when a liquid transforms to gaseous form, it absorbs heat from the surroundings. This evaporative process takes place in the evaporator coil, which starts at the compressor and goes into the indoor evaporative unit. This is where all the cooling takes place. A fan draws warm air from the room and passes it over the evaporator coils. In the process, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air. As a result, cooler air comes out of the AC. A condensate is also produced as a byproduct. Once the refrigerant goes through the evaporator unit, it makes its way back towards the compressor through the condenser coil in the outdoor unit. This is where heat from the refrigerant is extracted and dumped in the environment by blowing cool air over the condenser coils. Next, the refrigerant goes back into the compressor, where its volume is reduced through compression and it converts back to liquid form.