You may be perfectly content with your existing air conditioner, but learning how it works can benefit you. Understanding the refrigeration-cooling process will not only help you select the right unit when it comes time to upgrade, but it will also help you learn to value regular maintenance. Ultimately, in either case, you’ll be able to maximize your investment in your air conditioner just by taking the time to learn how it works.

The refrigerant looping through your air conditioner’s components is able to change forms throughout the cooling process, from a gas to a liquid and then back to a gas. But this chemical refrigerant is special because as it travels through the various cooling stages, it can absorb or expel heat, which is key to cooling a space.

Here’s how it works:

  • Beginning at the outdoor unit, the refrigerant starts at the compressor in a gas form, where it is cool and under low pressure. As the name suggests, the compressor begins to “compress” the gas, pushing all of its molecules together, increasing the energy and raising the temperature of the gas.
  • Then, the compressor sends the refrigerant, which is now very hot and at a much higher pressure, into the condenser. Here, the refrigerant is cooled by the condenser fan and changes back to a liquid form.
  • Once the liquid refrigerant arrives at the evaporator, the refrigerant’s pressure is released, and it is at this point that it changes back to a gas. During the change in form, the refrigerant is able to absorb heat from the surrounding air, thereby cooling the air.
  • The process begins again.

At any point during this process, if dirt exists on the condenser and or evaporator coils, for instance, the system’s efficiency will be compromised, making regular maintenance paramount. Additionally, it’s easy to see why advanced features, like enhanced coil design or a valve that meters refrigerant, are worth considering when upgrading.If you have questions about your air conditioner, or would like to talk to a home-comfort expert in greater Charlotte about upgrading, contact Acosta Heating & Cooling today!