How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

Turning on your air conditioner during the hot summer months is almost as second nature as breathing. In fact, many of us rely on our cooling systems without even thinking about how they deliver that crisp, cool air we’ve come to know and love.

So, how does an air conditioner work, exactly? What can you expect from the entire cooling process, from start to finish? It can be helpful to know the answer to these questions. So, if you’re ready to start, let’s discuss this important topic in more detail below!

How Air Conditioning Works Step-by-Step

It’s pretty safe to say that many of us take our air conditioning systems for granted. We don’t tend to think about where the cool air comes from or how it’s generated. However, when something goes wrong, and you need a local AC repair, you might start to wonder what goes on in that complex system of yours.

Various critical components allow HVAC systems to do their jobs and keep us cool. But how does an air conditioner work? If you’re looking for a simple explanation, we’ll go through the entire process one step at a time.

Thermostat Signals the AC

When discussing how air conditioning works, starting at the very beginning only makes sense. Of course, we all know that our thermostats play a rather important role in heating and cooling our homes. So when you lower your thermostat, it will send a signal to your air conditioning system to start a new cooling cycle. This is where the real work begins.

Warm Air Is Collected

You might think your AC unit collects air from outside, but this is actually not the case. Instead, your air conditioner collects the warm air from inside your home. As this air is pulled into the system, it passes through a filter to remove dust, pollen, and other potentially harmful contaminants. Once this indoor air has been gathered and filtered, it’s finally time to start the cooling process.

Air Passes Over Evaporator Coils

When going through our step-by-step guide for how air conditioning works, it’s impossible not to mention the importance of evaporator coils. Once the air from inside your home is sucked into the AC unit, it passes over an evaporator coil. As the air passes over the coil, the liquid refrigerant inside the coil absorbs heat from the air. 

Refrigerant goes through a strenuous process. It enters the compressor as a gas — however, the high pressure inside the compressor makes the refrigerant turn into a liquid. After working with the evaporator coils to cool down the air, the refrigerant is converted back into a gas.

As you can see, air conditioners only really remove heat from the air. This means they don’t actually create cold air.

Fun fact: You can’t create cold air. The term “cold” is used to describe the lack of thermal heat. So air conditioners simply remove heat from the air!

Air Ducts Distribute Cold Air

At this point, the majority of the work has been done. The warm air inside your home has been cooled down by the refrigerant in the evaporator coils. So, how does an air conditioner work once the air is cool and ready to be distributed?

Your air conditioning unit has a fan that’s used to blow air through your air duct system. Since these ducts connect to every room, you’ll notice that this cool air is evenly disputed throughout your home. With that, the cooling cycle is completed.

What Is a Normal AC Cycle Time?

There you have it! Hopefully, you now understand how air conditioning works inside your home. Of course, you still might have a few questions on your mind. For example, you might be wondering how long a typical air conditioning cooling cycle lasts.

In general, you can expect the entire cycle to run between 15 to 20 minutes. However, every air conditioner is different, so there’s the time may vary.

Your Trusted Team for AC Services in Martinsburg, WV

How does an air conditioner work? If a friend or family member asks you this question, you can now shock them with your newfound knowledge! As you can see, the entire cooling process isn’t too difficult to understand. However, that doesn’t lessen its importance.

Are you struggling to cool your home? Whether you’re dealing with short cycling, hot air, or refrigerant problems, the experts at Johnson & Johnson Heating and Air Conditioning are here to help. Although you may understand how air conditioners work, you should still trust your repair and replacement needs to the professionals.

We specialize in many types of air conditioners and will go the extra mile to meet your expectations. Contact our local AC installers to schedule an appointment in Martinsburg, WV, Frederick, MD, or the surrounding areas!