How Does Air Conditioning Work?

How Does Air Conditioning Work

Do you find yourself sweating bullets during the summertime? If so, you need to invest in an air conditioner! Air conditioners have become a staple in American homes over the last few decades. In this article, we will discuss how air conditioners work and the different types of AC systems that are available. We will also look at the components of an AC system and how they work together to keep your home cool and comfortable.

What Is Air Conditioning?

Most people think of air conditioning as a way to cool down their homes during the hot summer months. However, AC systems can also be used to heat your home during the winter. AC systems work by circulating and treating the air in your home using a series of components. These components work together to remove warm air from your home and replace it with cooler air.

What Are The Major Components Of An AC System?

There are four main components in an AC system: the condenser, evaporator, compressor, and expansion valve.

  1. The condenser is responsible for removing heat from the air inside your home. It does this by circulating warm air over a series of coils. The coils are filled with a refrigerant that absorbs the heat from the air.
  2. The evaporator is responsible for adding cool air to your home. It does this by circulating the refrigerant from the condenser over a series of coils. As the refrigerant circulates, it absorbs heat from the air. This cooled air is then circulated back into your home.
  3. The compressor is responsible for circulating the refrigerant between the condenser and the evaporator.
  4. The expansion valve is responsible for regulating the flow of refrigerant between the condenser and evaporator.

These four components work together to remove heat from your home and replace it with cooler air.

Aside from these main components, an AC system will also be equipped with a blower, fan, filter, and thermostat.

  1. The blower is responsible for circulating the air throughout your home.
  2. The fan is responsible for cooling the refrigerant in the condenser.
  3. The filter is responsible for removing impurities from the air.
  4. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature in your home.

These additional components work together to ensure that your AC system runs smoothly and efficiently.

What Are The Different Types of Air Conditioners?

There are three main types of air conditioners: packaged, split system, and ductless. Let’s look at these AC systems to understand better how they work.

  • Split System Air Conditioning: This type of AC unit is the most common in American homes. It consists of an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. The outdoor condenser houses the compressor, fan, and coils. The indoor air handler contains the evaporator coil, a blower, and an air filter. Split system ACs are usually more energy-efficient than other types of AC units and are a good option for homes with central heating.
  • Ductless Air Conditioning: Ductless ACs are similar to split system ACs in that they have an outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. The main difference is that ductless ACs do not require ductwork to distribute the cool air throughout your home. Ductless ACs are a good option for homes without central heating or cooling, or for rooms that are difficult to cool with your current AC system.
  • Packaged Air Conditioning: Packaged AC units are less common than split systems and ductless ACs, but they are growing in popularity. A packaged AC unit contains the compressor, condenser, and evaporator coils all in one unit. This type of AC is typically installed on the roof or on a concrete pad outside your home. Packaged ACs are a good option for homes with limited outdoor space.

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of air conditioners, let’s take a closer look at how they work.

How Does a Typical AC System Work? 

Now that we have a general understanding of the different AC types and components, it’s time to take a more in-depth look at how a typical AC system works.

The thermostat, which is generally positioned on the wall in the middle of the house, monitors and controls the temperature of the indoor air. When the thermostat detects that the air temperature needs to be lowered, it sends signals to both the inside and outside home air conditioning system components to start operating.

The air from the indoor unit is pulled through return air ducts, similar to those on a water heater. Dust, lint, and other airborne particles are trapped in filters during this process. The cooled, heated indoor air then passes over a cold evaporator coil. As the liquid refrigerant in the evaporator coil changes to gas, heat from the interior air is absorbed by the refrigerant as it flows past the coil. The blower fan on the indoor unit pumps chilled air back through the house’s ductwork into each of its living areas.

The refrigerant gas leaves the property via a copper tube, which is then carried into the compressor of the air conditioner outside. Consider the compressor to be a large electric pump. The refrigerant is pressurized and sent into the condenser coil of the outdoor unit through the compressor. An enormous fan draws external air through the condenser coil, absorbing heat from the home and releasing it via an exterior vent.

The refrigerant is returned to a liquid form during this process. It then goes through a copper tube back to the indoor unit, passing through an expansion device that controls the amount of refrigerant entering the evaporator coil. The cold refrigerant then absorbs more heat from the air inside, and the cycle repeats itself.


We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how air conditioners work. AC units are complex machines, but they don’t have to be a mystery. Now that you know how they work, you can troubleshoot problems and make informed decisions about your home’s cooling system.

If you’re in need of a home warranty that covers your air conditioning system and ensures that you’re not left without a functioning AC in the middle of summer, request a free quote or get in touch with our team.