An evaporator is basically a heat exchanger coil that’s responsible for collecting heat from inside a room through a refrigerant gas. This component is known as the evaporator, and is where the liquid refrigerant absorbs heat and evaporates to become gas.
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The indoor unit of a split air conditioner. It contains the evaporator coil (Photo Credit : Shutterstock)
Some of the most common refrigerant gases used in air conditioning systems include hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs (like, R-410A) hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFCs (like, R-22) and hydrocarbons (like R-290 and R-600A). It is this gas that actually absorbs the heat from the room and travels to the the next component for further processing, which is…
As the name clearly signifies, this is where compression of the gaseous refrigerant occurs. It’s located in the outside unit, i.e., the part that’s installed outside the house.
The condenser receives the vaporized refrigerant from the compressor, converts it back to liquid and expels the heat outside. Needless to say, it’s also located on the outside unit of the split AC.
Also referred to as the throttling device, the expansion valve is located between the two sets of coils (the chilled coils of the evaporator and the hot coils of the condenser). It keeps tabs on the amount of refrigerant moving towards the evaporator.
Note that in the case of window ACs, the three aforementioned components are all located inside a small metal box that is installed in a window opening.
These are the main components of an air conditioner. Now let’s look at how they work together to make an AC do what it does.
Air conditioner (AC) working principle
An air conditioner collects hot air from a given space, processes it within itself with the help of a refrigerant and a bunch of coils and then releases cool air into the same space where the hot air had originally been collected. This is essentially how all air conditioners work.
Many folks believe that an air conditioner produces chilled air with the help of machines installed inside it, allowing it to cool a room so quickly. That might also explain why it consumes so much electricity. In reality, however, that’s a misconception. An air conditioner is not a magical device; it just uses some physical and chemical phenomena very effectively to cool a given space.
When you switch an AC on and set your desired temperature (say, 20 degrees Celsius), the thermostat installed in it senses that there is a difference in the temperature of the room’s air and the temperature that you’ve chosen.