How Air Compressors Work
Many of us take the power and process of our cooling system for granted, rarely thinking about the way our homes are cooled, until we need AC repair. The technology behind cooling our most important spaces is ingenious and simple, it is based on converting Freon from a gas to liquid state in order to transfer heat out of your home and replace it with cool air. At the heart of this process is a working part known as an AC compressor, and understanding how it works helps you to be more educated about one of the 20th century’s greatest innovations and the system that is used to maintain a comfortable climate in your home.
A business or home AC compressor is usually housed in the cooling unit that sits outside of the residential or commercial structure, and it is here that the work of cooling our personal and functional spaces occurs, where hot air is turned to cool.
Freon is a working chemical that can convert easily from a gas to a liquid, and is most commonly used in cooling systems to transfer heat from the air inside a building or home to the outside. Freon arrives at the AC compressor in a cool, low-pressure, gaseous state. The Freon is then squeezed tightly, compacting its molecules. The more tightly molecules are compacted, the more energy they begin to create and use. The creation of this energy makes the temperature of the Freon rise. The more closely the air conditioning unit can pack the molecules, the hotter the Freon will become.
By repeating this action over and over again, your home AC compressor essentially acts as a pump, taking gas from the unit’s evaporator coil and handler and then pushing that low pressure gas into a high-pressure gas. To complete the cooling process this gas then moves through the unit’s condensing coil and evaporating coil.
When the high-pressure, hot gas flows into the condensing coil it is cooled down, returning the Freon to its liquid state. The heat molecules that are released during this transformation are pushed outside of the unit by an internal fan. Meanwhile, the now much cooler Freon liquid travels back to the unit’s evaporating coil and air handler inside of the building, pushing cool air into that space. This is the basic process of air conditioning. Contractor services are happy to further explain the workings of their units to customers, and may show you a diagram that looks like the image below, helping you to visualize the work your cooling system does.
Understanding more about the internal workings of your heating and cooling unit, not only helps you to truly appreciate the science and technology behind the comfortable temperatures in your home. It also allows you to have a more insightful and meaningful conversation with the HVAC contractor working with your to install a system in your home.
“Central Air-Conditioning & Heating System.” Illustration. Energyquest.ca.gov, 22 April 2002.
Web. 16 May 2011.
Linder6580. “Air Conditioner.” Photograph. Stock.xchng. 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 16 May 2011.