Air conditioners are essential for a modern home, especially if you live in a hot climate like Southwest Florida. Although we’re reliant on air conditioners to enjoy a cool and comfortable home, most people don’t understand how they actually work.

Air conditioners cool your home using a brilliant combination of mechanics and the power of thermal exchange to extract heat from inside a home and release it outside. Let’s explain the basics of how an AC works so you can understand why it’s important to keep your AC well-maintained, or why you should install one at your home.

General Premise on How AC Works

Air conditioners are used to cool the air temperature in your home, reduce humidity, and provide your home with better air quality. ACs do this through a process that happens simultaneously on the inside and outside of your home.

The Basics of How Central AC Works

Most homes in the United States (and here in Southwest Florida) use a central air conditioning system. Central ACs transfer cool air throughout your entire home, using refrigerant as a key component.

Heat is absorbed whenever a liquid is converted to a gas, and refrigeration uses this scientific principle to its advantage. Central ACs pass chemicals (known as “refrigerants” through the HVAC system where they come into contact with the warm air being drawn from your home and expand into gas. When the refrigerants expand, they absorb the heat from the warm air and cool it.

Central ACs also remove humidity by collecting condensation from the warm air that’s drawn from your home. The condensation is safely drained from the AC unit.

AC Unit Parts

It’s easier to understand how air conditioners work when you know what the main components are and what they do.

An air conditioner’s main parts are the:

The inside part of the AC unit contains the evaporator and a fan that circulates warm air over the coils.

The outside part of the AC unit contains the compressor and condenser.

What Are Refrigerants?

The refrigerant is the most important part of the AC system, outside of the main components. It’s a chemical that’s used to absorb heat from the warm air in your home.

Your AC expands and condenses refrigerant to remove heat from your home, leveraging the scientific principle called phase conversion. This principle results in:

An AC system basically turns liquid refrigerant into gas to remove heat from the air. The gas refrigerant is transferred outdoors, where it’s turned back into a liquid and the heat is expelled outside of your home.

Central air conditioners run this cycle continuously until your home has cooled to the desired temperature.

The Refrigeration Cycle Process

Here’s a quick step-by-step that explains how refrigerant is used to cool your home:

Refrigerant Cycled Back to Evaporator: Once the refrigerant has been turned back into a liquid and cooled down, it’s returned to the evaporator for another cycle.

What is Central Air?

Central Air is the most common type of HVAC system in the United States. It’s also known as a “split system” because it uses both indoor and outdoor units.

Central air conditioning usually includes the following design mechanisms:

How Air Conditioning Works in Detail

It should be easier to understand how air conditioners work now that you’ve learned about the refrigerant process.

Here’s what the other AC parts do:

Types of AC Units

Not all air conditioners are the same. There are different types of AC units that function a little differently from each other.

Split System

The split system (also known as a “central air conditioning system”) uses both an indoor and outdoor unit to cool your home. This is the most common type of AC system in the United States. You’ve probably noticed the “big box” on the outside of a home, which is the outdoor unit. The indoor unit can be a little trickier to find, but it’s usually located in the garage, basement, or utility closet. Split systems are usually the quietest and most efficient type of AC system with the longest lifespans (so long as they receive regular maintenance).

Packaged Air

Packaged air systems work in mostly the same way as split systems, but they combine the outdoor and indoor unit into a single unit. These systems are often used on properties that have little space for separate units and are often placed on the rooftop of a property.

Ductless Air

Central air systems use a single indoor cooling unit to cool and distribute air throughout your entire home. Ductless air systems incorporate individual cooling units in each of the rooms in your home. This allows you to set individual temperatures for all of your rooms (for example, you can keep your bedroom warmer than your living room). There’s still a single outdoor unit that all of the indoor units must be connected to, which usually makes the installation more labor-intensive and expensive.

Benefits of AC Units

There are so many benefits to AC units, which is why they’ve become an essential component of any home, especially in Southwest Florida.

If You Need an AC Installed, Call Hurricane Air Today!

Hurricane Air has a team of licensed and trained HVAC specialists ready to assist you with a new AC unit purchase. We will inspect your home to determine the best air conditioning system for your home’s needs. If you are in need of a new air conditioner or any air conditioner services, Hurricane Air is ready to help. Call today to speak with a specialist and schedule an appointment!

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