On a hot day, there is nothing better than stepping inside and feeling that cool rush of air. Cranking the AC when you are sweating makes life so much easier, but how exactly does it work? Thanks to the refrigeration cycle, even when the outside air is reaching triple digits, you can sit comfortably in your home. So what are some refrigeration cycle basics?
What Is The Refrigeration Cycle?
First, it’s important to understand what the refrigeration cycle is. To put it simply, 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. The cycle uses a refrigerant, which is a liquid or gas used to absorb heat from the air, thereby producing cool air. It does this by changing the pressure of the refrigerant by compressing and expanding it.
How Does The Refrigeration Cycle Work?
In the most basic form of the refrigeration cycle, there are 4 components: compressors, condensers, expansion devices, and evaporators. These components all work together step by step to absorb and remove the heat from an area and produce cooler air:
Diagram of the Refrigeration Cycle
Step 1: Compression
The first step in the refrigeration cycle is compression. During this, the refrigerant is in a gaseous, low-pressure state. The compressor compresses it into a high-pressure state, and it becomes very hot. It then leaves and enters the condensation stage of the cycle.
Step 2: Condensation
In this step, the refrigerant changes from a gaseous state to a liquid. The refrigerant arrives in this stage, and it immediately enters a component called a condenser. This is a series of tubes that the refrigerant runs through. As it runs through the tubes, cool air is blown on it, transferring the heat from the tubes to the air, and helping the refrigerant reach its “saturated temperature.” This is where it turns into a liquid state and gets ready to move on to the next stage of the cycle.
Step 3: Expansion
Here, the now liquid refrigerant enters an expansion valve where it is expanded and the sent out the other end with a lower pressure. The temperature of the refrigerant is also reduced.
Step 4: Evaporation
In this state the liquid refrigerant enters the tubes of an evaporator. Here, air from the room that needs the air conditioning is pumped into the system and blow across the tubes containing the refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air, reducing the temperature in the room, and changing the refrigerant into a low-pressure gas. The gaseous refrigerant is then pulled back into the compression stage and the cycle begins again.
Why Should You Care?
Understanding the processes of your AC unit is important for any homeowner. Being able to understand how the air in the room is cooled can help you identify when there is something wrong with your system. If you do ever notice anything wrong with your AC or furnace, schedule an appointment with us today.