Have you ever been sitting in your home, uncomfortably hot, and dripping sweat? What do you do? You go to blast the AC, of course! But do you know where the air in your AC comes from, or how it gets cooled? You may think that the AC unit just takes in air from outside and pumps it throughout your house, but the real way that an AC unit works may surprise you.
Despite many types of AC units having outdoor components to them, your home’s air conditioner does not actually condition the outside air. Rather, it continuously recycles the air throughout the room in a process known as the refrigeration cycle.
What is The Refrigeration Cycle?
The refrigeration cycle is a process within an air conditioning unit that is used to remove heat from an area that you are trying to cool. To put it simply, there are four main components to the process: compressors, condensers, expansion devices, and evaporators.
In the compression phase, the refrigerant, or liquid/gas used to absorb heat from the air, is low-pressure and gaseous in nature. It becomes compressed by a compressor, raising the pressure and making it very hot.
Next, in the condensation phase, the gaseous substance is transformed into a liquid. Here the liquid runs through a condenser, or a series of tubes and cool air is blown on it. The heat is transferred from the liquid refrigerant to the cool air, and it continues on to the expansion phase.
The expansion phase is where the liquid refrigerant enters an expansion valve, and its pressure levels are brought back down. Doing so also reduces the refrigerant’s temperature.
Finally, the liquid refrigerant reaches an evaporator in what is known as the evaporation phase. During this phase of the refrigeration cycle, the air from the room that needs cooling is pumped into the AC unit and blown across evaporator tubes containing the refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat, cooling the room, and changing the refrigerant back into a low-pressure gas. From there the refrigerant moves back onto the first phase and the cycle begins again.
What if I have a Window AC Unit?
While you may think that a window unit must take in air from the outside, you would be mistaken. A window unit works largely the same way as a central air conditioning system. The reason that it needs to sit in an open window is because the hot air that is being pulled from the room, is sent outside leaving the room cool. This is the same reason why your central AC system has components that sit outside the house.
Overall, your AC system does not bring in outside air. It actually takes air out of the room and cools it. For those hot days when your AC is broken or in need of maintenance, call Certified Heating and Air Conditioning! We have great deals on tune-ups, repairs, and replacements!