How Does Air Conditioning Work?

Have you ever wondered “how does air conditioning work to produce that coolness that brings so much relief from the heat?” Well, if you have, then this article will provide answers to your questions. Here, we would highlight the different parts of an air conditioner and how they function to get rid of hot air inside your home.

How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

Here is a simple explanation. The air conditioning system in your home, business centers, kitchen or car, pretty much work this same way. A standard air conditioner functions by retrieving hot air from a room or any space it happens to be in. 

It goes on to process this warm air with the use of refrigerant and a set of coils. After this processing, it releases cool air into the same room from which it had gathered the hot air. This is basically how the air conditioning system works. For a better understanding of how each part works together to produce this result, let us talk about each of them.

These parts include the following.

  • The Blower
  • Evaporator Coils
  • Compressor
  • Condenser Coil
  • Compressor Cooling Fan
  • Expansion Valve
  • Thermostat

The Blower

The blower or fan is one of the major parts of the air conditioning system. What it does is to ensure that there is a movement of air within the space that the air conditioner needs to cool down. 

In simpler terms, it ensures that there is a circulation of cool air inside your home or office. The blower in air conditioners comes in four types which include the propeller or axial fan, the centrifugal or radial fan, tube-axial, and vane-axial fan. 

The propeller fan often doubles as an exhaust and condenser fan in an air conditioner and is mostly used when a large circulation of air is needed.

Evaporator Coils

The evaporator is part of an indoor unit of the air conditioning system and is located inside the air handler. Its main function is to extract humidity and heat from the room. 

This is made possible through the refrigerant which is present in the evaporator coil. During a hot day, the air from the blower blows over the coil which cools the refrigerant in it. These cold refrigerant proceeds to extract heat from the air inside your home. 

However, in cold weather, along with the aid of a heat pump, the evaporator coils reverse the process by bringing in heat into the house. That is, it does not take the heat to the condenser coils in the outdoor unit of the air conditioning system.

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Compressor/ Consolidating Unit

This ensures that there is enough circulation of refrigerant needed for heat exchange within the coils of the air conditioner’s outdoor and indoor units.

As soon as the refrigerant in the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the air in a given space, it travels down to the compressor. The compressor in an air conditioning system then compresses and pressurizes the gas or refrigerant. 

This process increases the temperature of the refrigerant and turns it to a high-pressure gas. This increased pressure pushes the gas down a line that leads directly to the condenser coils.

Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are like the heat dispensing outdoor unit version of the evaporator coils. The air conditioner’s condenser major function is to get rid of the heat from the high-pressure refrigerant gas coming from the compressor. 

That is, as soon as the hot gas gets to the condenser, it becomes a highly pressured fluid. The heat is extracted and the refrigerant gas becomes a cool liquid. After this, this liquid goes through another circulating process of retrieving heat from the evaporator.

Compressor Cooling Fan

As mentioned above, the condenser in the air conditioning system functions as a heat dispenser. This implies that a huge amount of heat will be generated when the condenser converts the gas to a cool liquid. 

In order to keep the condenser coils cool and prevent overheating, a cooling fan is fixed right in front of the condenser coil to regulate the heat. If the cooling fan is not working effectively, the condenser will be ruined from too much heat. Also, the fan comes on automatically when the temperature becomes really high.

Expansion Valve

As the refrigerant cools after passing through the condenser, it will need to make its way back to the indoor unit evaporator coils to absorb more heat. The liquid will still be in a high-pressure form which may make it hard for it to perform its evaporation function and extract hot air from the room. Here, is where the expansion valve shines.

The expansion valve removes the pressure from this high-pressure liquid and effectively turns it into cooled gas. As can be seen in the explanation, the valve did not extract heat, it only removes the pressure which simultaneously reduces the refrigerant’s temperature. From here, it travels back to the evaporator coil and extracts hot air from the room. 


This is the part of the air conditioner that reads the temperature in the room and ensures that the conditioning unit comes on if there is a need for that. Also, if the room temperature is okay, it ensures that the air conditioner goes off.

In summary, hot air is removed from the room by the evaporator coils. This heat is absorbed by the refrigerant which is pressurized by the compressor and becomes hotter as a result. It travels down to the condenser where it is converted to high-pressure liquid and the heat is extracted from it and taken outdoors. The liquid is cooled and the pressure is removed by the expansion valve. It is transported back to the evaporator coils where the process is repeated over and over again.

Kindly click on the link below for an animated visual description of how an air conditioning system works.

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