Most homeowners rely on their central air conditioning unit to provide cool air during the scorching hot summer months. However, many of them don’t quite understand how their air conditioning system works. Although it’s ingenious, it’s actually not terribly complex, and it shouldn’t be a mystery. We’re going to go over all of the air conditioning system’s components below and explain how they function in unison to provide you with home comfort during the summer season.
The Components of Your AC System
Every centralized home air conditioning system has a few key components that it needs to work properly. These include a thermostat, ductwork, an evaporator coil, refrigerant and a condenser coil. While there are many other smaller parts of your system, understanding what these key components contribute can assist you in understanding how your entire centralized air conditioning system operates.
Setting Your Thermostat
To get your home to a desirable ambient temperature for your whole family, you’ll need to set your thermostat. This is the brain behind your entire air conditioning system as it tells the remaining system components when to turn on and off.
Your thermostat is typically installed on the main level of your home in an area that is considered near the middle. The placement of your home’s thermostat is very important because it determines the comfort level in your residence. If the thermostat is placed in direct sunlight, it will consistently read high and result in an overly chilled home.
Many centralized air conditioning systems come with a programmable thermostat. This essentially lets you easily program what temperature you want your home to be at throughout specific times of the day. This device promotes greater energy efficiency because you can program the thermostat to increase your home’s temperature when your family isn’t there. You can then program it to decrease the temperature to the desired level before your family arrives. This way, you can always walk into a comfortably cooled home.
The Indoor Blower Fan
When your thermostat determines that the temperature is above what you have set it to, it will turn on the entire AC system. The blower fan will pull air from the inside of your home through the return venting. This air will pass through both the air filter and the air purifier if you have one installed.
The air filter is a necessary component of your air conditioning system. It removes unwanted pollutants and debris from your air. This is essential to maintaining a high quality of air inside of your home. There are four different types of air filters that you can run in an AC system. These include pleated filters, reusable filters, HEPA filters and fiberglass filters. Some are disposable, and some can be cleaned. Consult your owner’s manual for specifics.
If you have an air purifier installed on your system, it will work to remove more unwanted particulates from your home’s air. There are four main types of air purifiers that you can have installed. These include media filters, electronic purifiers, PCO purifiers and combination purifiers. Media filters are the cheapest. While combination purifiers are more expensive, they are ideal for those with respiratory issues.
The Evaporator Coil and Refrigerant
As air goes through the filter and purifier, it will pass over the evaporator coil. Inside the evaporator coil, there is liquid refrigerant. As the warm air travels over the coil, the heat is transferred to the refrigerant. This heat changes the liquid refrigerant into a gaseous state.
During this process, excess humidity in the air is removed. The water simply drips off of the evaporator coil and into the drain pan. The water goes down the drain and out of your air conditioning system. The air that passed over the evaporator coil is essentially cooled because the heat and humidity are transferred out of it. This cooled air is then returned to the indoors of your home via the supply ducting.
Refrigerant Is Moved to the Outdoor Unit
The gaseous refrigerant is moved via insulated copper tubing to the outdoor air conditioning unit. This unit has a compressor that pressurizes the refrigerant and moves it through the condenser coil. In addition, there is an outdoor blower fan that pulls air from the outside through the condenser coil. The heat is dispersed through the outside air into the outdoor environment.
There are also metal fins attached to the condenser coil. These are aligned in a grated fashion, and they work to disperse the excess heat from the refrigerant. As this happens, the refrigerant returns to a liquid state. The liquid refrigerant will then make its way back into your home via the insulated copper tubing.
Refrigerant Expansion Valve
As the liquid refrigerant enters the inside unit, it will go through an expansion valve. This valve will regulate how much of the liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator coil. It also helps to reduce the pressure in the liquid refrigerant so that it’s able to turn back into a gaseous state when heat is transferred to it.
Once the liquid refrigerant enters the evaporator coil, the heat from the air will be transferred to it. This will turn the refrigerant back into a gaseous state, and the air conditioning process will repeat all over again.
The Various Types of Home Air Conditioning Systems
There are three main types of home air conditioning systems that homeowners utilize to stay cool in the hot summer months. You might have a split, packaged or ductless air conditioning system. Knowing how to identify your system is essential to understanding the position of the various air conditioning components.
Split system air conditioning units are the most popular option. They’re called split systems because the ductwork attaches to both the air conditioning unit and the heating unit, such as a furnace or boiler. This is the most common type of home air conditioning unit.
Packaged system air conditioning units have both the heating and cooling components combined in one outdoor unit. This type of system is ideal for homes that don’t have adequate crawlspace to install a split system air conditioning unit. Since all of the cooling and heating components will be outside, this system is more prone to damage from the elements, and it doesn’t last as long as a split system normally would.
Ductless air conditioning systems are ideal for existing homes that don’t have ductwork installed. This system consists of an outdoor compressor unit and multiple indoor wall-mounted air conditioning units. The wall-mounted units are individually controlled so they can be set at different indoor air temperatures. Each unit is connected to the outdoor compressor unit via copper tubing that is mounted to the side of the house.
Top-Quality AC Services
Residents of Hanover, MD, or any of the surrounding areas can count on Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating for top-quality air conditioning services. In fact, we provide both residential and commercial heating and cooling installation, repair and maintenance. Besides that, we handle indoor air quality issues, including air purifiers and humidifiers, as well as designing and installing custom ductwork. If you’d like to discuss any of these topics in detail, call us today. Our experts would be happy to assist.