All About Your AIr conditioning unit
The Evaporator, Compressor, Condenser, and Refrigerant
You may have some questions, like what exactly comprises your air conditioner system? The best way to break it down and explain an air conditioning system and how it operates is to relate it to something you may already know a little bit more about: our very own circulation system. Using this comparison, we can simplify your ac system and refrigeration into understandable parts:
Evaporator coils. The evaporator is a series of tubes containing refrigerant that absorbs the hot air being pulled out of your home into the unit, very similar to your veins moving old blood from your body back to your heart (or for an AC system, the compressor). Refrigerant (like blood) moves through the coils, which cools the air circulating around the coils, and the air is then moved via an evaporator fan back into the house via ductwork, much like your lungs.
Compressors. Very similar to your heart, this is the meeting place where the refrigerant that has absorbed heat in the evaporator, and has since now gone from a liquid to a gaseous state, now enters the compressor, where it builds up pressure (and in turn, builds up more heat, much like how a pressure cooker cooks food), until the refrigerant gas is finally released into the condensing side, or the condenser coils, or your ac unit.
Condensers. Here, the condenser, or condenser coils, acts to cool the built-up warm gas back into liquid, which is aided by a condenser fan and its accompanying motor, which is the big propeller-type fan you can see when you look down inside your outdoor unit. This turns the gas back into a liquid again, and once it does this, it flows to the expansion valve, or TXV, which precisely controls the flow of the liquid refrigerant back into the evaporator, and then the process begins all over again.
Refrigerant: R-22 and 410A. The "blood" of the air conditioner, refrigerant (or "freon" as it is more commonly known) is the liquid that runs cyclic through the system and alternately goes from a liquid to gas state in the evaporator side, and then from a gas to the liquid state again on the condenser side after leaving the compressor. The two most-used types of refrigerant today are R-22 and 410A. However, since R-22 contains ozone-depleting chemicals, that type of refrigerant is slowly being phased out for their more environmentally-friendly 410A systems.
The process of actually "cooling" your home revolves around this cycle of removing warm air and humidity from your home, and since the warmth is removed, it feels cooler.
Thermostats, Capacitors, Contactors, Whips, and Disconnects
Whereas the refrigeration cycle of your ac system resembles our circulatory system, the electrical portions of the AC system can best be compared to the brain and nervous system that controls all of it.
Thermostats. We are all pretty familiar with this little piece of equipment. We pass by it on a daily basis, and know that when we adjust it, our air had better work! Thermostats have certainly evolved over the years, going from the dial-style thermostat of earlier years to the mercurial box version we still see today, to programmable boxes, and now to WiFi-controlled versions that are smart-phone friendly. The wifi options are quickly gaining acceptance in the market, and for good reason: their efficiency and ease of use make them a very popular option.
Capacitors. Ever hear your unit coming on, but notice that the big, outside fan isn't turning? Most likely (and hopefully!) the problem is a bad capacitor, and we can easily replace those. They usually tend to go out on the hotter days of the year, when your unit is putting in overtime. Unfortunately, it might also be your fan motor, which is a repair that is a little more involved, and a higher price point.
Contactors. These work directly with your thermostat to control power to the unit. When the desired temperature is reached, the thermostat communicates to the contactor that it is time to shut the unit down.
Whips. This is the wiring that connects your ac unit to the ac disconnect.
Disconnect. A small subpanel close to your unit on newer homes, the disconnect works directly with your main service or meter to supply electricity to your unit. It allows easy power shut-off to your unit, making for safer repairs and replacements.
Learning about your AC wasn't so bad, was it?
As a matter of fact, some people make it into a career...like us! If you ever have any kind of problem whatsoever with your air conditioner or cooling system, please don't hesitate to call us. Timmy is standing by to take your call now, so what are you waiting for?