Understanding the 4 Basic Cycles of Air Conditioning Systems

Air conditioners are a great way to keep your home or office cool and comfortable. But how does it work? All air conditioners use the same cycle of compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation in a closed circuit. The same coolant is used to move heat from one area, cool it, and expel it to another area. The first step in the refrigeration cycle is compression.

A compressor is the equipment that increases the pressure of the working gas. The refrigerant enters the compressor as a low-pressure, low-temperature gas, and exits as a high-pressure, high-temperature gas. The next step is condensation. This is where the heat from the refrigerant is released into the environment.

To achieve this, a condenser is used. It is a heat exchanger that transfers heat from the refrigerant to the environment. The third step is expansion. This is where the pressure of the refrigerant is reduced so that it can absorb more heat from its surroundings.

To do this, an expansion device is used. Popular configurations include fixed orifices, thermostatic expansion valves (TXV) or thermal expansion valves (pictured above), and more advanced electronic expansion valves (EEV). Regardless of the configuration, their function is to cause a pressure drop after the refrigerant leaves the condenser. This pressure drop will cause some of that refrigerant to boil quickly, creating a biphasic mixture. This rapid phase change is called flashing and helps prepare the next piece of equipment in the circuit, the evaporator, to perform its intended function. The evaporator is the second heat exchanger in a standard refrigeration circuit and it absorbs heat from its surroundings.

This occurs when the refrigerant enters the evaporator in the form of a liquid at a low temperature and at low pressure, and a fan pushes air through the evaporator fins, cooling it by absorbing heat from the space in question and passing it to the refrigerant. After doing so, the refrigerant is sent back to the compressor, where the process is restarted. This cycle repeats itself until all of the heat has been removed from its surroundings. For a cooling system to work properly, there must be four main components: compressors, condensers, evaporators, and expansion devices. It's very important that all of these components are in place and functioning effectively. Otherwise, your installation will have problems when components break down. To ensure your air conditioning system works properly, you must maintain it regularly.

Cleaning and maintenance may not be easy for many people. However, with help from a licensed refrigeration technician, you can be sure your system will work effectively. Be sure to schedule a call with an expert if you have any questions about your air conditioning system.

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