How Does the Refrigeration Cycle Work?

How Does the Refrigeration Cycle Work?

Most of us probably don’t put much thought into how our air conditioners work and although they may seem simple, they are actually quite complex. Knowing how your AC unit works can help you get the most efficient results when using it!

The air that keeps your home cool on a hot Florida day is brought to you by the refrigeration cycle, a process that lowers the temperature of an enclosed space by removing heat from that space and transferring it somewhere else. Here’s an overview of how that process works.

The Parts

First, it is important to note that all AC units are composed of these basic parts. Each of these components is vital to the refrigeration operation:

  1. The compressor
  2. The condenser
  3. The expansion device/valve
  4. The evaporator
  5. The copper refrigerant tube (the tube that connects the parts together)

The Process

The compressor, which typically sits in the center of an outdoor unit, acts as the “engine” of the entire air conditioning system. During the refrigeration cycle, the compressor takes in refrigerant in the form of a low-pressure gas from the indoor evaporator coils. It compresses the refrigerant, turning it into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas, which then moves through the condenser coils that wrap around the compressor. The hot vapor then cools and condenses into a liquid as it flows through a coil, reacting with cool water or air. When the vapor condenses, it gives off heat to the outside air.

The liquid then moves to the expansion valve under high pressure. The valve restricts the liquid’s flow and rapidly lowers its pressure as it exits, causing it to be cooler than the space it is intended to refrigerate. Now at a low-pressure, the refrigerant moves to the evaporator, which absorbs heat from the outside air, and changes the liquid back to a gas.

At a cooler temperature and lower pressure, the gas is now at the perfect temperature to cool your home. As it circulates through the enclosed space, it moves back into the compressor where the entire cycle is repeated.

Make Sure Your AC Refrigeration Cycle is Working Right!

With so many steps necessary for the refrigeration cycle to function, it’s important that every part is operating properly. If you suspect there may be lapse in your air conditioner’s cycle, such as a leak, blockage or broken part, do not hesitate to contact us today. Your home’s comfort is our #1 priority, so give us a call if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment today!

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