Air conditioners and their opposite number, heat pumps, have been in use for decades. In fact, they were first invented in 1902 in NYC in order to pull the moisture out of a plant in NYC to keep the paper dry. The electrical engineer Willis Haviland Carrier needed to keep the paper dry because of how lithographing was done in the time. His original system involved pulling the warm moist air in the building into a duct where it was blown past cold pipes which cooled the air and reduced the moisture. Thus in the process of creating a dehumidifier system he also created an air conditioner.
Today the concept of an air conditioner has remained largely the same but the devices used in the system have taken on a more efficient and advanced manner. Today the three major components that all air conditioning systems have are the compressor, condenser and evaporator. Any HVAC OKC technician worth his/her salt will be able to list these off to you and explain their role in the process to you. All air conditioners will also have a chemical which is called a refrigerant in the system.
So let’s break down what each of these components does. The refrigerant picks up heat (known as BTU) from the air in your home and then expels that heat to the outside. The refrigerant accomplishes this by having a fan inside your home that pulls the hot air in over the evaporator coil which has liquid refrigerant in it. When the warm air blows over the pipes the refrigerant boils and evaporates. The refrigerant vapor flows from the evaporator coil into the compressor where it is compressed and then sent to the condenser coil. The condensing of the refrigerant causes heat and this is why your air conditioner has the fan on top blowing warm air out of it. That warm air is partly from your house and partly from the condensing process.
After the condenser coil removes all the heat from the refrigerant it returns to a liquid state. When the gas has completely returned to a liquid state, it is then sent to the evaporate coil again. Once it reaches the evaporator coil it starts the process all over again. An interesting fact about the whole system is that it creates more energy than the compressor uses compressing the gas. Due to the fact that when the refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas and gas to liquid it creates roughly three times the cooling energy that the compressor uses.
Heat pumps work in the same way as an air conditioner except everything is reversed because you are pulling cool air out of the house and pumping warm air into it. Problems occur in this system when the amount of refrigerant required is wrong or cracks occur in any part of the system. So remember these important details when your air conditioner has problems next time and be sure to have your technician clearly explain what’s wrong after they’ve inspected it.