When it’s sweltering hot in summer, your air conditioner keeps your home cool and cozy. For your AC to be reliable and efficient, several components have to work together in harmony. In this article, we will look at the critical parts of an AC and how they function.
1. The Refrigerant Fluid
One of the most critical parts of your air conditioner is the refrigerant. The fluid is compressible, meaning you can pressurize it to increase its temperature. It also moves from the indoor and the outdoor unit to dispense heat outside.
The refrigerant cycle depends on two stages of the fluid. When it is in the form of vapor, it absorbs heat from the evaporator coils. In the liquid form, it transfers its energy to the condenser.
There are many types of fluids that manufacturers may utilize in a cooling system. Regulators have banned some coolants due to their toxic or flammable properties. That means when you have a refrigerant leak; a technician may not be in a position to refill it.
The two most popular refrigerants are R-12 (Freon) and R22. Several countries have banned R-12 versions, including the U.S., since 1996. Modern cooling systems use R22 refrigerants, which are safer than their predecessors.
2. The Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coil primarily consists of copper tubes with a liquid coolant. When indoor air passes over the tubing, they absorb heat. The amount of heat it can absorb depends on the pressure of the coolant. When it’s hot, the pressure is low. On the other hand, when it’s cold, the pressure is relatively high.
A fan inside the AC’s air handler facilitates the continuous movement of air through the coil. When the refrigerant absorbs heat, it turns into vapor under low pressure. In its vapor state, the fluid will use energy to return to its liquid form. The last stage of the process cools the interior further.
The evaporator coil can also capture some of the humidity inside the interior of your home. When vapor heats the coil, condensation takes place, and it then turns into water. The water flows into the condensate pan and then dispenses it away from your home.
3. The Condenser Coil
The condenser coil is responsible for the second half of the cooling cycle. When warm air leaves the evaporator coils, it is pressurized in the compressor. The compressor has a fan that blows air onto the condenser coil to absorb energy from the refrigerant.
The condenser’s tube material is copper to facilitate the absorption of heat energy. The assembly also includes multiple coils to increase the surface area in contact with the moving air. Once the refrigerant cools down, it turns into liquid and returns to the indoor unit.
For the evaporator and condenser coils to work effectively, they need to be clear of debris and dust. Otherwise, the dust will act as an insulation that hampers the transfer of energy to the refrigerant. The best way to avoid such issues is to organize for cleaning during routine maintenance. Cleaner components enhance efficiency and reduce the energy consumption of your system.
4. The Expansion Valve
When the refrigerant returns from the condenser, it first goes into the expansion valve of your indoor air handler. The expansion valve can optimize the system’s cooling effect by limiting its pressure before it enters the evaporator coils.
As a result, the liquid refrigerant getting into the evaporator coils is at low pressure and cool enough to absorb heat. The expansion valve is, in turn, controlled by a sensing mechanism that adjusts the pressure according to indoor temperatures. That way, the air conditioner can regulate temperatures more effectively.
5. The Compressor
Compressors perform two critical functions: pressurizing the refrigerant and moving it through the system. It can pressurize gas coming from the evaporator coils as it goes into the condenser. The higher pressure increases the energy of the molecules, and it gains heat. The high pressure is cooled in the condenser coil before it can absorb heat in the interior.
There are different types of compressors with varying features. But most will include a motor that requires routine lubrication. The motor bearings can succumb to friction, which may cause technical problems within your AC unit.
It is worth noting that ACs use a special kind of lubricant that does not react with the refrigerant. Other types of oil can be hazardous when it comes into contact with the coolant. That is why you should leave tasks such as troubleshooting intricate parts of ACs to professionals.
Some compressors are hermetically sealed, which means you cannot repair their internal components. In such instances, you may have to replace it to restore the efficiency of your air conditioner. If you suspect your AC has an issue, you can talk to Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating‘s certified technicians in Annapolis.
6. Thermostat Devices
A thermostat is an essential device for efficient air conditioning systems. It takes the temperature of the room and sends that information to the cooling system. An inaccurate thermostat can overwork your AC and negatively impact the comfort of your home.
Your system may not regulate temperature properly if the device is in an inappropriate location. Areas with lots of ambient heat can change the temperature reading on your device. As such, the system can record incorrect temperatures and cool temperatures more than is necessary.
In the past, most devices were manual or electric but with a few features. Today, thermostats have many features such as wi-fi and programmable capabilities. A smart device can adjust your AC depending on your schedule or daily habits.
For example, you can turn down your AC when your leave home. You can then program it to turn on just before you get home. Wi-fi capabilities allow you to make adjustments on your smartphone or portable devices. That way, you can check on your AC when in your room or when you are away from home.
Heat Pumps and Variations in Cooling Systems
The parts of a cooling system may vary considerably depending on its working principle. One type of system that is becoming popular with homeowners is the heat pump.
A heat pump can heat and cool your home within the same unit. It has an indoor and outdoor air handler and a refrigerant that transfers heat from the indoors to the outdoors. In the cold season, it can reverse the cycle to heat the interior.
The heat pump can cool primarily by changing the pressure of the refrigerant in the indoor unit. That means heat pumps do not use resistance heating present in most conventional air conditioners. As such, it is a good option for low-cost cooling.
A heat pump efficiency can be up to four times higher than a regular AC. They can also provide warm water with temperatures of up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in the chilly winters in Annapolis, a heat pump can provide adequate and efficient heating.
Whenever you suspect there is an issue with your air conditioner, it is always wise to seek prompt repairs. Our BBB accredited team is always ready to inspect and fix your system. We can install heat pumps, furnaces, ductwork, and indoor air quality solutions. Consult Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating‘s staff today and discover our A+ rated AC solutions.