Given that the world now uses about 700 million air conditioners, you’d think more people would understand how does an air conditioner work.

Whether you’re talking about an HVAC unit or a window unit, they both function under similar principles. Understanding air conditioning helps you to understand why we need them and why they use so much energy.

Here are the 5 steps an air conditioner goes through to create cool air.

1. It Picks Up Air

Air conditioning starts at the condenser. The condenser unit is covered with grills. It picks up air through these grills and begins to circulate it through the system.

The fans start to move, forcing the air through the system.

2. It Gets Chilled

The air that was sucked in then flows through some pipes in the system. The purpose is for the air to cool down while it moves past these chiller pipes. Inside these pipes, a coolant fluid circulates.

This is a lot like how the cooling cabinet works inside of your refrigerator. Air that’s brought into the machine is cooled off, and then there’s a dehumidifier unit. It helps by removing excess moisture and making the air much more comfortable.

3 Past The Heating Element

The air then flows past a heating element, but when it’s cool out, that heating element is off. The air is then blasted through ducts, leaving the room much cooler than it started. The air continues to be circulated as the air conditioner works.

It will continue to blow until your thermostat, or the internal thermometer determines that it’s reached the temperature you were looking for.

4. The Coolant

There’s a volatile liquid in your compressor called a coolant. It flows through the pipes, making them very cold to the touch, sometimes even covered in frost.

While the coolant moves, the air is separated, and warm air is blown back out of the unit. Outside of your HVAC unit, the air can be sweltering. The air causes a chemical reaction for the coolant, making it oscillate from being a liquid and a gas. This loop helps it to cool down the air that is blown into the room you want to be cool.

5. Heat Is Removed

Because the whole system generates so much energy and heat, that energy has to go somewhere. It’s forced out of the unit through metal plates, usually on the top of the unit. That’s one of the reasons it can cause a spike in your electricity bill.

A fan will blow to help move the air out of the unit so that it doesn’t overheat. The function of the unit strongly depends on the delicate nature of the volatile liquid.

Knowing How Does An Air Conditioner Work is Important

Once you’ve determined how does an air conditioner work, you can better understand the function of why they get so hot and why they’re so necessary. Since they’re able to turn hot air into cold, low-moisture air, they rely on using lots of energy. Now that you get how yours works, you can better diagnose problems when they arise.

If you’re in the market for new air conditioning installation, check out our guide for what you can expect to pay.