Air Conditioner Parts

Although the principles of modern air conditioning were discovered nearly eighty years earlier it wasn’t until 1902 that the first commercial air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier. It wasn’t created to give the world relief and comfort from the heat as it is used today, but rather to increase productivity in Mr. Carrier’s printing plant. The liquid refrigerants used in the cooling process may have changed throughout the years but the parts and principles of conditioning the air haven’t changed much.

An air conditioner is actually a mechanical system called a heat pump, and as hard as it is to believe this system actually cools your home by removing the heat from inside of it. For an explanation of how it does this read what is a heat pump.

The parts of an air conditioner whether it is a window unit, central air conditioner or portable system remain the same, and here is a brief explanation of each.

Refrigerant for years this was known by its proprietary name Freon. Currently Freon is being replaced by Puron R410a. This refrigerant passes from gas to liquid as it gets pumped though the AC system. As it changes states it either becomes heated or very cold.

Blower this is a very powerful fan that sucks warm air from the inside of a home, pushes it through the evaporator coil where it is cooled and blown back into the house.

Evaporator Coil a series of copper pipes and thin metal fins (like a cars radiator) that has very cold refrigerant passed through it. This refrigerant picks up the heat from the warm air blown past it by the blower fan.

Evaporator drain line as warm humid air passes through the cold evaporator coil the moisture condenses and collects in a drip plate. The water in the drip plate runs into the drain line and either flows or is pumped out of the house.

Filter The filter collects dust, dirt and allergens from the air being sucked from the house by the blower, and cleans this air before it is pumped into the evaporator coil. This is very important because if the coil becomes clogged it will need to be cleaned by a professional.

Compressor In a central air conditioning system the outside unit is called the condenser.  This unit is comprised of many parts, but the central part is a compressor that is used to compress the refrigerant. As this refrigerant becomes compressed it becomes very hot.

Condenser Coil heated refrigerant from the compressor passes through this coil where a fan transfers the heat from the refrigerant into the outside air.
Coolant Lines copper piping that transports the refrigerant from the outside condenser unit to the inside evaporator.

Expansion Valve releases the pressure created by the compressor. This expansion chills the refrigerant before it gets pumped through the evaporator coil, where it again picks up the heat inside the house and brings it to the compressor.

Thermostat a device that senses the temperature in a room and turns the air conditioner on or off at predetermined temperatures.  Newer units can be programed to turn on and off at different times of the day, and at different temperatures.

Duct Work in a central air conditioning system duct work is passageways made of either galvanized metal or flexible tubing made of wire coils wrapped in plastic. These ducts carry cold air from the evaporator throughout the house, and return warmer air to the evaporator.

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