What Is An AC and How Does it Work?

Air Conditioners

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During the hot summer months in Vaughan, your home can be unbearably hot, and opening the doors and windows may not offer you excellent ventilation. When it gets super hot, the air conditioner is one essential home appliance you’ll find handy. It keeps the home cool and ensures you have a good night’s rest.

In addition, an air conditioner helps you maintain optimum temperature levels in your space. Even though it’s a necessity in most homes, how it works is still a mystery. Many people believe the air conditioner blows cool air into a room. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. The air conditioner functions by removing heat from your home and transferring it outdoors.

The operation of the aircon is quite simple to understand. In fact, every prospective AC owner should know all about how the device works. Since most people are unaware of this information, they’re likely to buy an inefficient AC.

That’s why we’re writing this article. Thanks to their experience and technical knowledge, our AC installation and repair guys can give you all the tea. Here’s all you need to know about how the air conditioning system works and the functions of the various components.

What Is An Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner, also known as A/C or AC or air-con, is a system for cooling the temperature of an enclosed space by removing heat moisture. It functions by taking warm or hot air into the system and circulating cold air.

The operation of the air conditioner is very similar to that of the refrigerator. The difference is it lacks the external housing which a refrigerator uses to cool a tight insulated space. Instead, the air conditioner functions by relying on the walls and doors in your home to trap cool air.

Although the air conditioner concept originated during ancient Egyptian times, engineer Willis Carrier was the brain behind the first modern air conditioning system.

Willis Carrier invented to solve the air temperature issues at a publishing company in New York. Carrier’s invention controlled both the humidity and temperature of a space. The appliance cooled air by passing it across cold oils, enabling it to stabilize the moisture in a room.

Not long after, the modern air conditioning system as we know it came along. Today, you can adopt air conditioning technology in theatres, cars, and shops for added comfort.

How An Air Conditioner Works

When you turn on your air-con, the device absorbs warm air and pumps it outside through a refrigerant (cooling agent) to release cold air back into the room. Then, the air conditioner immediately converts gas into a liquid and back again to cool gas. In simpler words, when the liquid turns to gas, it absorbs heat.

Components Necessary for Your Air Con to Work

There are key components along the air conditioning process that manipulate the temperature, pressure, and state of the refrigerant to allow it to reject or absorb heat at particular times. They include:


The compressor present in the air conditioner functions as a pump that reduces the volume of gas present within the system. It also increases temperature and pressure for condensation. In simpler words, a condenser is a pump that pressurizes the refrigerant.



The air condenser enables heat transfer. It absorbs heat in the room through the refrigerant, which receives vapour and expels it outside, where it changes state from gas to liquid. After the heat is pumped outside, the cool refrigerant goes back to the evaporator.


Evaporator receives the liquid refrigerant. It draws the warm air in your home and passes it through an expansion valve that controls the flow. Then, it blows the air over the evaporator coil, which takes in the heat from the air.

How Does an AC Work: The Step-By-Step

Highlighted below is the step-by-step process of how an AC functions:

Step 1: Absorption of heat through the evaporator coil

The AC pulls the hot air in your home out via a vent into the system. In return, the cool air blows across the evaporator pipe. This procedure is similar to what occurs when moisture evaporates from the skin.

The cold evaporator coil contains a unique liquid known as refrigerant, which converts liquid to gas. Plus, it’s a part of the air conditioner, which is located indoors.

The fan, which is an outside unit of the AC, pumps cool air into ducts that disperse it in your room. The fans function like a car’s radiator, helping to dissipate heat quickly.

Step 2: Compressor functions to increase the refrigerant level

The air-con expels the refrigerant outside the home to another coil that removes heat and alters it back to liquid. The outside evaporator coil is known as the compressor. The compressor mainly reduces the gas volume in the air conditioner.

The compressor’s action increases the temperature and pressure of your refrigerator, readying it for a condensing procedure. Keep in mind that when the fluid goes through the condenser, it’s cooler.

Step 3: Transfer of heat to the outdoors

The refrigerant works as a superheated vapour. It enters the condenser (outer component) and is released to the air outside. The external air takes in the heat in the refrigerant by reducing its temperature and converting it from gas to liquid.

Step 4: Refrigerant cools down: process repeats

After the appliance pumps the heat in the refrigerant outdoors, the cool refrigerant returns inside to the cold evaporator and repeats the process. This procedure continues until cold air circulates fully in your home.

When your room reaches the preset temperature, the thermostat shuts off the air conditioner before it functions again.

What is the Function of Air Filters?

Function Of Air Filters

Every air conditioning system comes with an air filter above the cold evaporator coil. Depending on the air-con installation method, the filters may be present in special spaces in the pipe system.

Also, they can come in a folded paper or fuzzy-looking filter. The air filter cleans dirt from the air con stream to keep it neat and remove dust, dirt, and dander present in the atmosphere.

With it, your home will have fewer insects and bugs. These filters further prevent fleas from dispersing on your pet’s fur. A functional filter removes particles and increases air quality within your home.

However, an air conditioner with a filter clogged with particles will leave the system dirty and reduce airflow. Not to mention, it may result in air pollution in your home. When this occurs, it’s best to change the filter.

How to Maintain Your Air Conditioner

Now that you know how an air conditioner works, the next step is understanding its maintenance. There are various reasons the routine maintenance of an air conditioner is important.

To begin with, the AC will be one of the expensive investments in the home. So, you should protect it to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. Keep reading to find out the different ways you can maintain your air-con.

Changing your filter

Changing and cleaning your air conditioner filter is arguably the easiest way to maintain its smooth operation. In fact, it doesn’t require expert service. Plus, it’s a task you can perform in under a few minutes.

Schedule an expert maintenance appointment

No doubt, you may be saddled with so many responsibilities that AC maintenance may skip your mind. For this reason, it’s better to schedule regular appointments with a technician.

A technician will ensure your appliance is working perfectly, with no underlying issues. Overall, they’ll help you solve problems that may need servicing.

Check your condensate drain

The condensate drain is the pathway for condensation. Over time, the drain can get clogged and obstruct your AC drainage.

Therefore, you must inspect your condensate drain to ensure water is flowing properly. If otherwise, unclog the drain.

Keep the evaporated cord coils clean

Your air conditioner coils are an essential component of the AC. With constant use, the coils get filled with particles which reduce the level of heat it absorbs. To prevent the AC from malfunctioning, you should clean the coils regularly. We recommend you begin by cleaning the dirt in the condenser unit.

Related Article: Common Air Conditioner Faults

How to Make Your Air Conditioner Energy Efficient

There are many ways you can increase your AC efficiency. In fact, the efficiency rating determines how an air conditioner works in the home.

To begin with, solving issues like leaky pipes, clogged drains, dirty filters, and coils will help you improve the efficiency of your air conditioner.

Aside from that, where you place your condenser unit (outdoor) matters. Bushes and objects in the way can restrict airflow. Not to mention, particles will clog the condenser easily.

Now the most significant thing you can do to make your air-con efficient is to purchase a high-efficiency appliance. So when buying it, check the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). The least SEER rating your air-con should have is 13. Keep in mind that a system with high efficiency is more expensive, but they’re worth it.

Health Benefits of Using an Air Conditioner

Part of how an air conditioner works is by boosting the quality of your life. Here are some health benefits of using an air conditioning system:

  • It has a well-regulated temperature which makes nighttime better. A cool bedroom not only gives you comfort but ensures you rest peacefullyafter a stressful day.
  • By staying in a hot environment, you’re at risk of suffering heatstroke. With an AC in your home, you’ll reduce the chances of experiencing heat-related illnesses.
  • The air conditioner offers you cleaner air which makes breathing easier. It reduces the likelihood of breathing problems like asthma. To further reduce health problems, you must change your filter when necessary.
  • With your AC running, it’s unlikely you’ll suffer dehydration. A cooler temperature means you won’t sweat much.

Other Benefits OF The Air Conditioner

Other Benefits Of The Air Conditioner

Aside from improving your health, here are other ways the AC can benefit you.

  • It improves the security of your home. Because an air-con requires you to lock your doors and windows for proper ventilation, it’ll be difficult for uninvited people to barge into your home or peep through the window.
  • Having an AC in your home reduces noise pollution. If you live in a busy city or beside the main road, it’s a perfect way to stop the noise. Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about the noise from the system because it’s quiet.

FAQ On How an AC Functions

Here’s what you need to know:

What are the various types of refrigerants?

Most air conditioning systems function with the R-410A and R-22 refrigerants. The newer models often use the R-410A. In fact, it’s unlikely you’ll find the R-22 refrigerant today because it has adverse effects on the ozone layer.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eFor this reason, the R-22 (Freon) has become more expensive. Luckily, if you’re using the R-22, you can still get its replacement. On the other hand, R-410A (Puron) is more eco-friendly than its counterpart.

How does the evaporator coil work?

The evaporator coil is an essential component that determines how the AC works in a room. It’s a part of the AC that’s indoor. Refrigerants inside these coils take in heat from the circulating air. After heat is expelled from your space, the refrigerant goes back to the evaporator coils.

What’s the importance of SEER rating?

The Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) determines the efficiency of the air conditioner. It influences the rate of the energy and cooling output of your system. So, an increased SEER number means you’ll have a super-efficient air conditioning system.

Where do the heat and moisture go?

After learning what an air conditioner is and how it works, you may wonder where the collected moisture evaporates to. Well, there are three ways it can disperse.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eDrain pump and hose: Not all air conditioners come with a hose. But most portable options allow you to fix a drain hose to expel water into your preferred location outside. At the same time, you can use a pump accessory to move the water, especially if your hose is long. No doubt, a pump and hose is the best way to remove moisture from your home.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eManual removal: A conventional air conditioner often has a container in it for collecting moisture. Depending on how humid your room is, you may have to empty the water twice daily. The manual method is very stressful and may disrupt your air-con runtime.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSelf-evaporative: The self-evaporative method is the best because it evaporates the moisture into the outdoor air. Higher-end AC’s usually have this feature.

Factors To Consider When Buying an Air Conditioner

Getting an aircon is an important expense, and you shouldn’t make the buying decision lightly. Major factors that should guide your choice of aircon include:

  • Brand
  • Price
  • Type of warranty
  • Fan motor
  • Refrigerator type

You should also consider the following talking points:

Noise level

A loud air conditioner interrupts a goodnight’s sleep and can be distracting if you’re having a peaceful time. Keep in mind that your AC noise level is determined by the fan speed, type of unit, and its location.

Compressor type

There are two compressor types; single and two-stage. The single compressor cools your home while functioning at full speed. On the contrary, the two-stage compressor runs at high and medium speeds. The high speed is for dry and hot days, while the medium is for cooler days.

The two-stage compressor is more energy-efficient and cost-effective than its counterpart.

Related Article: Air Conditioner Repair: AC Not Getting Cold


An air conditioner is an excellent appliance that offers comfort through harsh weather. It has an amazing technology combination that makes it both a luxury and a necessity in the home.

An air conditioner is a home appliance that upgrades your space. Since you already know how an AC functions, we can help you appreciate its effects to the fullest.

If your system is having problems, our air conditioner repair and maintenance services can assist you in servicing it. Here at ALP Heating, we know the importance of a great air conditioner, and we can help ensure you harness one to the best potential!

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