How Does An Air Conditioner Cool Your Home?

You might only think about how your air conditioner works if it stops working. But knowing the basics of how it functions can help, whether you're purchasing a new system or maintaining one that you already have. 

What Are The Basic Components?

An air conditioning unit consists of a condenser, compressor and evaporator. In reverse-cycle split systems, the outdoor unit contains the compressor and the indoor unit houses the other parts. The key to how these combine to cool your home lies with the closed system of coils that loop between the inside and outside units. These insulated pipes contain refrigerant that continually circulates.

How Does The System Provide Cool Air?

To cool your rooms, the machine sucks in air through a grill underneath the indoor unit. This air flows over coils full of cold refrigerant, which cool the air down. A fan at the top then blows this chilled air back into the room. 

What happens during this process is that the heat transfers from the air, which blows past the coils, to the refrigerant within them. As the coolant then travels through the outdoor unit, fans blow against the coils to release their heat.

The refrigerant itself changes form at different stages — as it becomes hot, it turns into a gas, then back into a liquid once it releases heat. It absorbs then releases that heat at the right moment. In this way, the air conditioner removes heat from inside your home to outside. When you switch on heating instead of cooling, the air flows over a heating element before blowing back into the room, and the system goes into reverse mode. 

What About Thermostats And Filters?

The thermostat monitors the temperature within the home to gauge when to turn on or off or to slow down or speed up (for an inverter model). If the thermostat misreads the room atmosphere, this can lead to problems, as it will stop and start when it shouldn't. The filter, another essential component, strains and traps impurities in the air before it flows back into your room. If you don't replace or clean them regularly, filters can become blocked and clogged and struggle to allow the right amount of air through. (Refer to your manufacturer's instructions regarding filter care.) That's why regular maintenance is crucial; otherwise, you can end up paying higher energy bills if your air conditioner is overworking to maintain a comfortable temperature.