How Does Air Conditioning Work?

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Some people may not think the need to know how air conditioners work. However, there’s nothing wrong with learning the process so that when a crash occurs, users can find and figure out the cause.


Air conditioning was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902. Air conditioning is a machine that cools the air. It does this by taking the warm air and adding a coolant, usually water or a chemical. Then, the cold air leaves the machine and gets sent into a room or building. The warm air then leaves the room or building and goes back outside.

Main Components In AC


Before knowing in more detail about how air conditioners work, it’s a good idea for users to understand the four main components that make air conditioners emit cold air.

The first is the capacitor. The function of this component is to convert the refrigerant from its original gaseous form to a liquid with the refrigerant temperature.

The second main component in the air conditioner and has a fairly important role is the condenser.

In AC, this component functions to cool the refrigerant liquid if it starts to heat up. The shape itself is like a pipeline with a flattened and winding shape.

Next, there are components of the evaporator and the capillary tube. The evaporator in the AC functions to transfer heat from the air to the refrigerant. Later the refrigerant will turn the liquid into water vapor.

Finally, the capillary tube has a function to reduce the pressure and flow from the refrigerant to the evaporator.

AC Working Process

After understanding the main components of the air conditioner, it’s time to know how the air conditioner works.

AC work actually starts when the user turns on the AC. For more details, here is a brief explanation of the AC working process:

1. Turning on the AC & Signaling the Thermostat

Thermostat AC
Source: Denso

The first way the air conditioner works starts with turning on the AC first. When people turn on the air conditioner, the last temperature used will appear on the screen.

This temperature setting is actually done through a component called the thermostat. Next, the thermostat will send a signal or sensor to start the cooling process.

Next, the compressor will start to run so that the refrigerant in the A/C system will begin to perform its function.

When turned on, all systems in the air conditioner will also start to turn on, including the fan.

2. Refrigerant Absorbs Room Hot Air


Furthermore, the cold refrigerant will be stopped in the component part of the evaporator. In this component, cold air will meet hot air directly, absorbing hot air in the process.

Later, the air will become colder while the refrigerant turns warm. Finally, if the air is too humid, the air will turn into water.

So, without being realized by many people, apart from being an air conditioner, AC also works as a dehumidifier. Later the water will be discharged to the outside through a pipe that is connected to the air conditioner. That way, the water won’t damage the air conditioner or cause the room to get wet.

3. Sending Cold Air Back Inside The House


If you have gone through the above process, the next process is sending cold air back into the room. The fan in the air conditioner will send cold air around the evaporator back into the room.

For those who use central AC, the air will flow through every existing channel so that all rooms can look cool uniformly.

Conversely, for those who use a split system, the level of cold that enters the room will be divided according to the temperature setting.

So, one room with another room can have a different temperature, according to needs.

4. Refrigerant Releases Heat to Outdoors


Well, surely many are asking, what happens to the air temperature that is absorbed by the refrigerant?

The answer is that it will be released out of the room through the condenser coil on the outside of the unit. Thus, in principle, the refrigerant system works the same as a sponge.

When the refrigerant has absorbed a large amount of heat and reaches its limit, it will release it to the outdoors.

This will continue to happen as long as the air is hotter than the outside air temperature. However, this will stop when a balance has occurred between the temperature in the refrigerant, and the air temperature is the same.

5. Blowing Hot Air to Outdoor

The fan in the AC system will also help speed up removing hot air from the refrigerant. With a powerful engine, the fan will blow hot air out of the room faster.

However, the fan in the system also functions to blow air through the condenser coil and keep the room cool.

Those who have experienced outside AC or AC fans can directly feel the hot air coming out of the machine. This proves that the hot air absorbed by the refrigerant is released to the outside.

So, so that the hot air does not collect in the house or office area, the fan in this part of the machine will blow it so that it quickly spreads and does not make the area hot.

6. Cold Refrigerant Will Reenter Indoor Air Conditioning

When the refrigerant is balanced, the compressor will pump the air back into the room. This process will repeat until it reaches the desired room temperature.

If it reaches the desired temperature, the system will rest until the temperature in the room rises again.

How to make sure the air conditioner is always cold

After understanding how air conditioners work, it’s time to ensure all processes and components work correctly.

If not, then the air produced is usually not cold and makes the air conditioner not work optimally.

One of the causes that often occurs and makes the AC not cold is a dirty AC machine. If there are dirty parts, then the air conditioner will not work optimally to make it emit hot air.

Of all the components in the air conditioner, one of the dirtiest components is the dirt filter. To avoid this, make sure to clean the air conditioner regularly.

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