How Does an Air Conditioner Work?

An air conditioner is a standard appliance in home comfort. The Energy Information Administrations reports that 87% of homes have and AC unit and it accounts for almost 20% of yearly electricity consumption in the US. At Kimbro Air we believe the knowledge is power, the more you know about the appliances you are using the more effectively you can operate them.

The modern air conditioner was invented in 1902 by Willis Havilard Carrier. It was invented to solve the humidity problem at a printing plant in Brooklyn. The concept of using chilled water to cool down certain areas predates his invention by centuries, however it is Carrier who is credited with inventing a system of chilled coils to maintain and constant temperature.

There are four main components of your air conditioner:

  • Evaporator – receives the liquid refrigerant
  • Condenser – facilitates the heat transfer
  • Expansion valve – regulates the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator
  • Compressor – pump that pressurizes the refrigerant

The refrigerant cycle inside your AC unit is as follows. It starts as a liquid, then it has a phase conversion to gas. Through this conversion it absorbs heat. It is then compressed and pushed through another phase transition back to liquid. Refrigerant is a chemical that allows this conversion to occur at and it is this conversion cycle that creates what we know as modern AC. The appliance forces this conversion to occur over and over again within the closed coil system.

Fans inside the unit blow warm air over the evaporator. The refrigerant inside picks up the temperature of the air. As it absorbs the heat from the air it turns into a vapor. The refrigerant goes from being a cold liquid to a hot vapor. The unit blows the cool air out while the hot refrigerant vapor passes into the compressor and gets compressed to an even higher pressure and temp. This then flows over the condenser which turns it back to a liquid and the heat is radiated away.

Basically the heat from the air is absorbed by the refrigerant and carried through the AC system to be pushed out the other side, while the cooled down air is pushed inside.

And air conditioner also words as a humidifier and dehumidifier. You may have a moisture collection pan on your unit. As the refrigerant absorbs heat it also absorbs the moisture from the air.

If you have any questions about the process involved or would like to schedule service or maintenance on your unit call us or request service online today.

If you are in Hendersonville, Nashville or the surrounding communities, please call the heating experts at Kimbro Air or request service online. If you are not sure if you are covered by us, visit our service area page or call our office to find out what we can do for you.


Kimbro Air proudly provides HVAC service to Hendersonville, Nashville, Bellevue, Bordeaux, Brentwood, Franklin, Gallatin, Goodlettsville, Hermitage, Madison, Mt. Juliet, White House and the surrounding communities. Visit our service area page for more coverage details, call us at 615-527-8576, or request service online today.

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