How Air Conditioning Works

Here’s How Your Air Conditioner Works

The first modern air conditioning system was developed in 1902 by a young electrical engineer named Willis Haviland Carrier. It was designed to solve a humidity problem in a local business. Carrier treated the air inside the building by blowing it across chilled pipes. The air cooled as it passed across the cold pipes, and since cool air cannot carry as much moisture as warm air, the process reduced the humidity as well. Reducing the humidity also had the side benefit of lowering the air temperature – and a new technology was born. 

Here’s a look at how modern air conditioning works.

Air conditioners use refrigeration to remove heat from one area, where it is undesirable, to another.  By moving warm air over cold refrigerant-filled coils, it removes heat from the air and then distributes the cooler air back throughout your home via ductwork.

Air conditioners use chemicals (Freon) that easily convert from a gas to a liquid and back again. This chemical is used as a substance to absorb the heat from indoor evaporator coils and rejects that heat to outdoor condenser coils – basically it transfers heat from the air inside of a home to the outside air.

There are three main components to an air conditioning system, all with a particular job to perform.

The Compressor

  • Every air conditioner has a compressor. Simply put, this action allows the air conditioner to pull heat from the air.

The Evaporator

  • The evaporator is a cold indoor coil. The fan passes air across this coil and any moisture will condense and collect on the coil’s fins. In this process the heat that is in the air is pulled out from the air stream. This conditioned air is mixed with the air of the house.

The Condenser

  • The condenser coil is a hot outdoor coil where the gases that have carried the heat from your home are released to the outside. After passing through the compressor, the gas now releases its heat and condense back into a liquid.

Air conditioning units not only remove heat and humidity from your home, they also help air quality in the home by removing airborne particulates from circulating air and collecting them in a filter.

Air conditioners cost consumers about $11 billion annually and use about 5% of the United States annual energy consumption. Switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to keep your home cool could reduce energy use for air conditioning by 20% to 50% and save you lots of money in energy bills. Contact your local Minnesota air conditioning expert for more information on high efficiency air conditioner units.

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For home maintenance and comfort tips, visit! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice.

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