Learn How an Air Conditioner Works

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Refrigeration cycle vector illustration. Scheme with Low and high pressure, cool and hot liquid, air compressor, evaporator, expansion valve and condenser. Physics basics and temperature diagram.

There’s nothing better than walking into a cool home on a hot day in sunny Florida. The cool air hits your skin and refreshes you. But how exactly does your home get cooled? We are so used to technology solving problems for us that we sometimes take it for granted. Scott’s Heating and Air Conditioning is here to tell you how an air conditioner works to make your home comfortable every day.

Is an AC all Heating and Cooling?

No. Of course, heating and cooling are the primary effects, but air conditioners do so much more than that. Working directly with thermostats, they regulate the air temperature in the home.

We all have odorous elements in our home… from burnt food in your kitchen to pets in need of a good bath. Air conditioning systems utilize filters to remove airborne particulates providing clean air to breathe. Have you ever noticed that there is a drip pan where your indoor AC unit is? That is because your AC unit acts as a dehumidifier, taking the moisture out of the air and converting it into a liquid for drainage.

AC systems do a lot for your home and your comfortability. It’s all a part of a simple, yet effective process.

The Parts of an AC System

There are many parts of an AC system, but there are specific parts that are important to the AC airflow cycle. One of the most important parts is your refrigerant. The refrigerant is what drives the vast majority of chemical processes that take the hot air out and allows cool air to fill up your home. Notice that the refrigerant’s role affects every aspect of the following airflow cycle.

If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it probably uses R22 refrigerant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began phasing out R22 refrigerant in recent years because it was compounding the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. By 2020, R22 will no longer be produced.

Read More about R22 Refrigerant


The compressor assures that your hot air travels out of your home. The combined gas law states that when pressure increases, so does the temperature. In order for hot air to leave your home, the compressor pressurizes the refrigerant. It also raises its temperature which then invites the warm air from your home to easily travel outside to the condenser via the 2nd law of thermodynamics (heat flows naturally from hot to cold).


The condenser coil is the outdoor AC unit you typically see on a concrete slab in a back yard. This component takes in the hot air released by the compressor and facilitates its transfer outdoors. This heat is released when the condenser fan blows air over the coils as the refrigerant depressurizes and cools as it travels back inside to the expansion valve.

Expansion Valve

As the refrigerant leaves the condenser, it is too hot to enter the evaporator coils. Remember the combined gas law? The expansion valve cools the refrigerant by decreasing the pressure of the refrigerant thus reducing its temperature as it moves to the evaporator coil.

Evaporator Coil

When hot air from your home flows over the cold evaporator coils, the refrigerant inside the coils absorb that heat as it turns from liquid to a gas. Just as the condenser used a fan to expel hot air outside of your home, the evaporator coil uses an air handler to blow air over the cool coils thus cooling down your home through vents.

Don’t Take Your AC For Granted

Air conditioning systems are a mystery to many homeowners, but the process is fairly simple. It utilizes multiple scientific principles to provide you with a comfortable place to lay your head. Understanding how it works can help you identify problems before they become too expensive to fix.

Regardless of your AC knowledge, Scott’s Heating and Air Conditioning is here to provide Central Florida with expert heating, cooling and air quality expertise.

Schedule an Appointment Now

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AC Service Testimonials

  • 5 star review  CLIFF WAS AWESOME!!! After our AC unit wasnt cooling like it used CLIFF came to my home and did a phenomenal job. He was very professional and knowledgable. I work in the service field as well and noticed how clean and organized he kept his tools and material/parts he was removing and replacing. Parts were cleaned to the best of his ability due to it being a 21 year old unit. He did a fantastic job. Would definitely recommend SCOTTS to my neighborhood and google members. Now my house cools off in no time. Thanks again CLIFF and of course the SCOTTS TEAM.

    thumb Richie Cruz
  • 5 star review  We had a great experience With this company, starting off with our sales person Daniel, extending to the entire installation crew. I’m sorry that I don’t remember all the names of the technicians who installed our units, but each and every one of them was very courteous, professional, and informative. They did not leave the house until the job is done right, and I did take a long time because we do have an older house. They started the job at about 8:30 in the morning and finished at 10 PM. They cleaned up everything and made sure that there was a full explanation as to how to use the thermostat units and the app so that we could control all of the AC units from our cell phones. They also made sure to follow up after the installation to make sure that we were satisfied with the job. I would certainly recommend Scott’s for AC installation.

    thumb Prashanta Laddu
  • 5 star review  Scott's Heating & Air Conditioning = Professional. They did an awesome job with my system change. The photos are of finished product and old product. A drastic difference! They were on time and knowledgeable. They made sure the job was done to my satisfaction. I highly recommend them!

    thumb Ryan Rawski
  • 5 star review  Very customer driven company. Sherrie was great when I called that evening for repair. Bill (technician) called and gave me an estimated time. He had the problem diagnosed and fixed within 30 minutes. Great guy - knowledgeable and friendly. Good company.

    thumb Lea Chancey
  • 5 star review  Grant and team from Scott's were OUTSTANDING! The new system is wonderful and I purchased the 10 yr plan so that I can have worry-free A/C for a decade! I cannot encourage you to do business with these folks enough. I'm a customer for life!

    thumb John Kellis

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