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How Do Air Conditioners Work?

Keeping your home cool and comfortable is primarily the job of your air conditioner but understanding how it works can be super confusing for many. In this guide we will simplify some explanations on some of the functions of an air conditioner. We will discuss the major components of an air conditioner including the condenser, blower motor, coils fans etc. as well as the major differences between a ductless wall mounted and a central air conditioning unit.

Let’s get started

Functions Of An Air Conditioner & How Your AC Works?

This is quite simple; your air conditioner should cool your home and maintain that temperature in the hot summer months. It will pull the hot air out of your home and replace it will cool conditioned air. Sounds easy right?

What Is Central Air Conditioning?

The prefix “central” is just simply to describe your air conditioner in relation to your furnace. Its a central system that works with your home’s furnace motor. The word “central” isn’t a modifier that changes the type of unit in your home. It’s just a way to describe the system as a whole.

The Components to Make Your Home Air Conditioner Work?

Air Conditioners typically consist of a few different components and they all work simultaneously to move warm out and cool air in.

The Condenser

This is that big block you typically see on the outside of homes. It’s the starting point and ending point of the cooling process for your home.

What Is A Compressor In An Air Conditioning Unit?

This condenser has a compressor within it. A Compressor is quite simply what pushes the refrigerant inside the home to next component we will talk about.

What Is Air Conditioning Refrigerant & How Does It Work?

This is the component that makes your air conditioning actually work. Its runs through from the outside to inside of your home and it is constantly changing from a fluid to a gas and back again. Each time this process happens at one state the refrigerant can absorb heat and at another state it will expel it. This is done with different pressures on the refrigerant which absorbs hot air inside the home and expels it when it comes back outside the home.

This is the reason that warm air comes off of the air conditioner condenser outside. It is actually the result of the refrigerant absorbing warm air inside the house and blowing it outside the home.

Sounds Interesting right?

Now this can get technical on the exact pressures and temperatures etc. but leave that up to the HVAC technicians.

Evaporator Coil

This is the component inside the home just above your furnace. It works exactly like a radiator of a car. If you’re not sure how that works than that’s ok. Essentially the coil is where the magic happens. At this point in the process the evaporator is simultaneous absorbing heat and releasing cool air as the refrigerant runs through it.

Now this happens all in one spot but doesn’t explain how the air gets through your home. This is where your furnaces blower motor and ducts come into play.

Blower Motor

In your homes furnace there is a motor designed to blow air throughout your house. When its cold and you turn the temperature up it will blow the warm air from the furnace and when it gets too hot and you turn the temperature down this air will blow over the evaporator coil as the refrigerant runs through it thus having cool air.

*This air also blows through your furnace filters which helps improve your home air quality. This is why an air conditioner can help reduce allergens and allergies. *

The warm air in your home is sucked through the air return vents which are usually located in each room of your home. As new cooler air runs through your home you get to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning.


This one is pretty easy to identify. It’s what puts you in control of how much comfort you want. A beautifully air-conditioned home is controlled at your fingertips while the entire process runs in the background.

How Do Ductless & Wall Mounted Air Conditioners Work?

Now not every home will follow the same setup for an air conditioner. If you live in condo or smaller home typically you may not have a furnace within your home. You’ll most likely have those baseboard heaters that run all around your home. This means there is no ducts, no furnace and most important no blower motor to push this air around your home.

This is where specialized ductless air conditioners come into play. These are wall mounted units that follow the exact same process as before. These units typically have a hole in the wall to the outside where a small sized condenser will sit. A smaller condenser is used for smaller homes where less is energy is needed to cool the home. This smaller condenser will still push refrigerant around the circuit.

The major difference is that built into the wall mounted component is a blower instead of using one from your home’s furnace. Usually, these are pretty quiet and can offer quick and easy comfort for your condo, apartment or smaller home.

Bonus: How does a Water Cooler Air Conditioner Work?

Here in Canada and especially Calgary you will rarely see a water-cooled air conditioner. So, what is it? It’s the exact same process we discussed before except for instead of refrigerant it uses water. You could see how this may become inefficient in such drastic temperature changes we see here in Calgary. The time and efficient it takes to heat, and cool water makes it a rare setup to see.

We have seen large home set up with this kind of system however we highly recommend going with a higher efficient system that can save you countless dollars on your energy bills.

Getting A New Air Conditioner for Your Home.

If you have more questions regarding upgrading or installing a new air conditioner into your home feel free to check us out at jpsfurnace.ca. Our Experts can answer any question you may have about your current system or help educate the benefits of a new air conditioner system here in Calgary and surrounding areas.

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