How an Air Conditioner Works? (With Video)

Have you ever wondered that regardless of the design, all air conditioners have one part indoors and the other outside? This is because of how an air conditioning works. It channels heat out of your house and replaces it with cooler air.

how an air conditioner works

The heat in the Summer can be dreadful and air conditioners come to our rescue at work, at home, in cars, etc. They can also improve the quality of the air and influence the humidity inside your home for the sake of comfort.

Whatever brand or type of air conditioning unit you know, you’re about to learn what goes on inside the unit. Perhaps this new knowledge will help you appreciate the cooling system some more.

How an Air Conditioner Works

All air conditioners follow the same process regardless of whether it is a window or split design. They use the same general approach to cycle the routine of getting warm air out of your home and replacing it with cooler air.

Air conditioners have 2 sets of coils, the evaporator, and the condenser. The idea is to keep the evaporator cooler than the room temperature and the condenser warmer than its surroundings.

Air conditioners use a liquid that converts into gas and then back to liquid again to move warm air (absorbs heat) from your home and delivers it outside.

That liquid is called a refrigerant. This is the general idea of how air conditioning works. Now, let’s dive into some more specifics.

The details

The refrigerant flows through the evaporator, the set of coils exposed to your home.

The refrigerant has a low boiling point. So, it absorbs the warm air in your home and turns into a gas. Now there’s more heat in the refrigerant than the air.

A fan inside your air conditioner indoor unit blows the now cool air into your home.

Next, the air conditioner flows the refrigerant through the condenser to releases the heat into the outside air.

Dumping the heat happens when the refrigerant is converted back into liquid form. This part of the process is done by a compressor which subjects the gaseous refrigerant to high pressure. As gas turns to liquid, the heat in it is released and another fan blows it out of the outdoor unit.

As the refrigerant makes it back to the evaporator, it passes through an expansion valve which releases the pressure. Now the refrigerant is ready to start the process all over again.

The entire sequence happens over and over until the temperature in the space you want to cool matches what you input. LG LW8016ER 8,000 BTU 115V Window-Mounted AIR Conditioner with Remote Control

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Is it Cheaper to Leave an Air Conditioner on All Day?

Whether you’re using a split, central, or window air conditioner, it’s going to affect your energy bill. Cooling the air inside your home is important, so is saving money.

Whether to leave your AC unit running or not in a bid to save on bills has been a topic of debate for a while. To make it even harder to decide, both sides of the argument makes some sense. On our part, since the aim is to save on bills, we decided to give you tips instead of choosing sides.

  • Close the gaps. If your home is not well insulated, outside air will flow in and the cool air that should be sealed in will escape. In other words, you’ll be paying more when the bills come.
  • Get a fan. It’s not all the time you need your air conditioner fired up. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says that a fan can make your room 10 degrees cooler and they use far less energy.
  • Thermostat placement. Who would think which wall you place your thermostat would matter? If you place it on a warmer wall, the air conditioner will turn on more often thinking the room is hot.

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How an Air Conditioning Works in a Car?

The air conditioning system in automobiles is similar to what we explained above. However, there are few differences in the way these smaller air conditioners regulate temperature. Before we go into the details, let’s give you a little history lesson on the way cooling the air inside a vehicle started.

In 1939, a New York company, Packard, came up with an ingenious way to remove heat from the air in car interiors. In 1940, there were already factory-fitted air-conditioned cars. As you can guess, it took off!

The modern air conditioner in cars is a closed loop with two sides: the low-pressure and high-pressure sides. Let’s start with the latter.


The refrigerant, in gaseous form, flows into the compressor, which acts as a pump. Here, the gas is subjected to pressure and it is pumped into the condenser.

This works essentially as a radiator just like the bigger one under the hood. Its purpose is to remove hot air from the system. The pressurized gas (refrigerant) flowing through tubes is turned into a pressurized liquid by the air around the tube.

Now the refrigerant is getting closer to cooling the car. Before that happens, it first goes through a dryer which contains desiccants. The aim of this process is to remove any moisture. If not, water might turn into ice crystals and damage the evaporator coil. Now let’s proceed to the other side.


This is where hot air turns to cold air. As the liquid refrigerant moves from the dryer into the expansion valve, it is allowed to expand and give off its pressure. On sensing the pressure, the valve regulates the flow of the refrigerant into the evaporator which stabilizes the entire system.

At the evaporator (with its metal fins) is where the actual cooling happens. The refrigerant flows into the evaporator coil as a low-pressure liquid. With its low boiling point, the heat in the car is enough to boil the refrigerant and turn it back into gas.

A fan blows the cold air into the cabin which lowers the temperature. The gaseous refrigerant flows into the compressor and the process starts all over again.


There you have it. As of the time of writing this, the process we explained is how most air conditioners go about cooling the air inside your home; and refrigerators too.

We hope you found the information you’re looking for. If you want more juicy stuff like this one, explore our website. Thank you for your time. We’re happy to keep you informed.

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