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How Does Air Conditioning Work?

While temperatures have been relatively mild as of late, you never know when the next heat wave is coming during a Maryland summer. And when you’re stuck in traffic on I-695 and the thermometer is pushing 100 degrees, nice cool air conditioning and some good tunes on the radio can be a saving grace. But how exactly does your car’s air conditioning system work? While you’re basking in the coolness, your air conditioner is hard at work against the heat.

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Under Pressure

Pushing down on me, pressing down on you…ahem. The whole process starts with the compressor. Run by a belt attached the engine’s crankshaft, the compressor draws gaseous coolant, called R-134a, in and compresses it. The high pressure gas is then pushed into the condenser, which takes the gas (which has gained heat from pressurizing) and cools it down back into a high pressure liquid. This liquid passes through the receiver-dryer in order to remove any water that has entered the system, which could potentially damage the unit if left unchecked.

Cool it Down

Now that the high pressure liquid has been purified of water, it flows through the thermal expansion valve, the purpose of which can be found in its name. The hot, high pressure liquid flows through the valve and is allowed to expand. In the process it loses both its heat and pressure, and proceeds to the evaporator. The evaporator is unique in that it is the only part of the air conditioning unit not located under the hood. Instead, it is found in the cabin, usually above the footwell on the passenger side. Once the low pressure cool gas reaches the evaporator, it quickly absorbs the heat in the passenger cabin, and moves on to the compressor where the whole process begins anew. A fan above the evaporator blows cool air into the cabin, and you feel like a million bucks even though you’re stuck in traffic on a Friday and you’ve heard the same 5 classic rock songs in rotation on the radio every day this week. But at least you’re cool!


If you have any questions about our blog, “How Does Air Conditioning Work?” please contact Auto Stop by calling 410-467-7600 or visit AutoStopLTD.com today! You can also follow Auto Stop on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 at 9:28 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.