How Does Air Conditioning Work?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Your vehicle’s air conditioning unit functions much the same way as the air conditioners found in homes. It even uses several of the same parts. The car’s air conditioner might seem complicated, but it can be understood once you are familiar with a few working parts. Read through this article, and you may find you are able to service some of the parts yourself!

How AC Works

Every machine that works to lower air temperature goes through similar processes. First, a gas like freon is placed in a sealed system, and then the gas is pressurized in a compressor. As the gas is pressurized, the gas heats up and absorbs the energy surrounding it. When gas enters into an air conditioning system, it is circulated through a collection of tubes that work to absorb the energy and thereby dissipate heat. As the energy is absorbed, the gas returns to a liquid state and can be recirculated back into the system.

The temperature in your car is lowered by the process of taking in air from your car, absorbing the heat present by running the air through tubes, and then replacing that air into your vehicle. For many years, freon was used inside the tubes to cool the air. However, because freon has been discovered to have handling hazards and harm the Earth’s ozone layer, it has been discontinued in the automotive industry and a new refrigerant is used in cars today. It is slightly less efficient as a coolant but does not harm the ozone layer.

Your Car’s AC Parts

The air conditioning system in your car consists of a condenser, refrigerator lines, a compressor, an evaporator, and some sensors. Let’s see what they do.

  • Condenser: The condenser functions like a small radiator. It is located at the front of your car adjacent to the big radiator. The condenser may have a cooling fan attached. Air that is hot from being compressed passes through and loses much of its energy inside the condenser, cooling it off. The condenser has a clutch that pushes out more or less air as you adjust the settings.
  • Compressor: The compressor is your AC’s most important component. It takes the refrigerant gas in your car and applies pressure to it, forcing it to absorb heat and cool the surrounding air. It operates by an engine belt. This part also has an electric clutch that changes that rate at which the compressor runs as you adjust settings.
  • Evaporator: This part is another small radiator that works for the opposite function of the condenser. Extremely cold liquid passes through the evaporator. Air then becomes very cold as it is forced through. This is the last stop before that air re-enters your vehicle’s cabin moments later. As the air passes through, the refrigerant begins to warm up again. As it turns back into a gas, it starts the process of circulating through the system again.

All cars AC units are equipped with these basic parts. Although different sensors may be used to monitor the system’s health depending on your vehicle’s make and model. If you’re looking to service part or all of your AC system, be sure to refer to your repair manual before operating for the first time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked *