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How Does a Central Air Conditioner Compressor Work?

air conditioner compressorWhen you stop and think about it, air conditioners are truly amazing appliances. Through an ongoing, cyclical process, they are able to take heat from inside your home and release it outside. One of the most important parts of making this process possible is the compressor. So what is a central air conditioner compressor and how does it play a role in cooling your home?

What is a central air conditioner compressor?

Your air conditioner has three primary parts that are responsible for changing the state of refrigerant in order to cool your home: the evaporator, condenser and compressor. The compressor plays a critical role in the cooling process because it is the middle-man between the evaporator inside your home and the condenser outside your home.

The job of the compressor is to convert the low-pressure, gaseous refrigerant from the evaporator into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas before it enters the condenser.

How does a central air conditioner compressor work?

As mentioned above, when refrigerant leaves the evaporator inside your home it is a low-pressure gas. In order to release the heat from inside your home that the refrigerant absorbed, the refrigerant needs to be of a higher temperature than the air outside. That’s where the compressor comes in.

Refrigerant enters the compressor through what’s known as a “suction line.” Inside the compressor is a piston that moves forward and backward to draw refrigerant in and then squeeze the gas tightly together. When the gaseous refrigerant is squeezed, the molecules pack together tightly and both the temperature and the pressure of the refrigerant are raised.

The now high-pressure, high-temperature refrigerant then leaves the compressor through the “discharge line” and flows into the condenser. Because heat naturally flows from warmer to cooler substances, the heat from the hot refrigerant is then transferred to the cooler outside air that is blown over the condenser coils. The refrigerant then cools down and turns back into a liquid, where it goes back inside to repeat the process.

If you have any questions about a central air conditioner compressor, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Jerry Kelly, your St. Louis area heating and cooling company.