Modern air conditioners are highly engineered and exactly manufactured technological wonders of the modern world. In fact, a 21st-century heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system seamlessly combines several elements of mechanical engineering including thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer.
Here are the basic physical components of a modern system:
The recognized “brains” of the HVAC operation, the thermostat controls when the unit turns on and off, what temperature it maintains and also regulates to some degree the maintenance of the unit. The thermostat should always be of primary importance when an HVAC unit is inspected. Not only should it be checked for an accurate temperature reading but should also be inspected to ensure that it operates the unit efficiently.
Actually a large electric pump, the compressor, as its name implies, pressurizes the refrigerant gas as part of the process of turning it back into a liquid. You will usually find this unit located on the outside of the building where it generates a lot of heat. There is a second larger fan here to help cool the unit.
The condenser is another element, which, like the compressor, is located on the “hot” side of the A/C system. It is designed to remove much of the latent heat in the refrigerant when it returns from inside the home and thus make the job of the compressor that much easier. If you have ever looked at the back of a refrigerator and noticed the coils located there, you have seen a condenser – albeit one that does not work as efficiently as those on the latest A/C units.
The Expansion Valve
A little known but quite important part of an HVAC system is this element. In essence, it stands between the “hot” and “ cold” sides of the system by regulating the amount of compressed liquid refrigerant moving into the evaporator. In many ways, it is the most complicated of the elements in an HVAC system.
Not to get too technical but, for instance, a temperature sensing bulb filled with a similar gas as in the main system controls the flow of the refrigerant. As the temperature increases, this bulb causes a spring pressure gauge to open a valve. Alternatively, as the temperature in the suction line decreases so does the pressure in the bulb and therefore the pressure on the spring decreases thus causing the valve to close. Pretty simple, huh?
This element of the HVAC system is located on the “cold” side of the system inside the home or business. It is set of coils over which air is blown and then delivered to the living space via the ductwork. It gains its name from the fact it turns a compressed liquid is turn into a gas (evaporation) while operating.
This element is simply a fan that moves a volume of air across the evaporator. They are an integral part of the air handling systems in that they help draw fresh air into the building. It is also the part of the system you generally hear – that is, the hum – inside the home when the unit is operating.
The Duct Work
Not technically part part of the mechanical system of your HVAC system, the duct work is quite important especially if you have a zoned system. The duct work should be checked on a regular basis just like the mechanical parts as any damage to the ducts can significantly effect the efficiency of the moving parts. In addition, the duct work can have its own moving parts that help to direct air flow to the desired areas of the living space.
Learn More about Air Conditioners
For more detailed information about the various parts of an air conditioner in particular or on HVAC or home electrical systems in general, please contact us at GAC Services. We can be found online at GACServices.com or reached directly at 240-224-3144.
You may be interested in learning more about common AC vocabulary.