A lot of us wish air conditioners just functioned magically. You plug them into your home’s electrical system, and maybe a fairy turns that electricity into ice cubes that then cool the air off in your home. Or perhaps there’s a creature living inside that outside box, and the creature eats heat and drinks electricity but gives off cooling power. Wouldn’t that be something?
Unfortunately, the reality is a bit more boring but simpler to understand. If you thought that your air conditioner functioned like some complex experimental device then you would be mistaken. Air conditioning in McLean, VA is actually a fairly simple process that involves the evaporation and condensation of refrigerant.
Want to know a bit more? We don’t blame you! Keep reading as we get into the juicy details about air conditioning and how it works behind the scenes.
Evaporation and Condensation
The important two pieces of air conditioning that homeowners should be privy to are evaporation and condensation. These are the scientific functions that allow an air conditioner to actually condition the air around it. Think about it, when you’ve got a cold glass of soda, condensation builds up around the outside of the glass. Some interesting things happen when gases like water vapor or refrigerant condense, and that’s where we’ve found a way to cool air.
When refrigerant evaporates, it pulls heat into it. This is what the evaporator coil in your air conditioner is tasked with doing. It pressurizes the refrigerant so it turns from a liquid to a gas, and thus draws in heat from your home. This by default cools the air in your home. Then what happens to all that heat it just pulled in? It sends the refrigerant to the condenser coil!
At the condenser coil, the refrigerant is turned back from a gas to a liquid and that depressurization causes it to disperse the heat. Except this time, the transformation happens outdoors and the heat gets dispersed into the atmosphere. Pretty neat, huh?
Why Use Refrigerant?
This is an important question to ask and one that we seek to answer right now. Air conditioners use refrigerant because it’s a material that’s specifically designed to evaporate and condense without soaking up too much energy when being compressed. While water would be a great environmentally friendly refrigerant material, it actually takes an incredibly large amount of energy to compress water and use it as refrigerant. Thus, we use a man-made chemical that works as refrigerant to limit the amount of energy we use to pressurize it!
What Does This Mean for You?
Basically, it’s important to know how the cooling process works in order to better understand why things might go wrong. When a refrigerant leak occurs, for instance, it’s important to understand the severity of what this means to the rest of your system. Your cooling, comfort, efficiency, and peace of mind could be in jeopardy because the less refrigerant that exists in the system, the less likely it is to cool your home properly.