How Your Air Conditioner Works

Have you ever wondered what is going on inside your air conditioner? The basic idea behind any air conditioner is evaporation. When a liquid evaporates it feels cool. If you put alcohol on your skin you can feel the coolness as it evaporates.

-The Machine has three main parts. They are a compressor, a condenser and an evaporator. The compressor and condenser are usually located on the outside air portion of the air conditioner. The evaporator is located on the inside of the house, sometimes as part of a furnace. That’s the part that heats your house.

-An Air conditioner contains a liquid that evaporates a lot like alcohol but evaporates at a much lower temperature. As the liquid changes to gas and evaporates, it extracts heat from the air around it. The heat in the air is needed to separate the molecules for the fluid from a liquid to a gas. The liquid evaporates inside the house. The evaporator has metal fins to help in the exchange the thermal energy with the surrounding air. It evaporates inside a set of metal coils and the liquid makes the coils extremely cold. A fan blows across the coils and that air is what cools your house down. It then returns to the compressor to begin its trip all over again.

-To turn that gas back into a liquid, you use a compressor. The compressor squeezes the gas and gets really hot in the process. Connected to the evaporator is a fan that circulates the air inside the house to blow across the evaporator fins. Hot air is lighter than cold air, so the hot air in the room rises to the top of the room. There is a vent there where air is sucked into the air conditioner and goes down ducts. The hot air is used to cool the gas in the evaporator. As the heat is removed from the air, the air is cooled. It is then blown into the house through other ducts usually at the floor level. greenhouse air conditioner

-It’s a continuous cycle with the gas turning into a liquid turning back into a gas while your house is getting cool the entire time. This continues over and over until the room reaches the temperature you desire. When your thermostat senses that the temperature has reached the right setting it will turn of the unit. As the room warms up, the thermostat turns the air conditioner back on until the reaches the temperature again.-

Imagine that you took an air conditioner and flipped it around so that the hot coils were on the inside and the cold coils were on the outside. This is how a heater works. A heat pump is an air conditioner that contains a valve that lets it switch between “air conditioner” and “heater.” When the valve is switched one way, the heat pump acts like an air conditioner, and when it is switched the other way it reverses the flow of the liquid inside the heat pump and acts like a heater.

-Heat pumps can be extremely efficient but one problem most heat pumps have is that the coils in the outside air collect ice. The heat pump has to melt this ice periodically, so it switches itself back to air conditioner mode to heat up the coils. To avoid pumping cold air into the house in air conditioner mode, the heat pump also lights up burners or electric strip heaters to heat the cold air that the air conditioner is pumping out. Once the ice is melted, the heat pump switches back to heating mode and turns off the burners or heat strips.

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