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Air Conditioning Question: What Does the Compressor Actually Do?

If you have any familiarity with the operation of an air conditioning system (or most refrigeration equipment) then you have probably heard about an important unit called the compressor. Although all the parts of an AC are important toward making it work correctly, the compressor is the heart of the whole system: without a working compressor, you don’t have a working air conditioner, end of story.

So what does this key part actually do that makes it so important? We’ll explain briefly.

The Compressor: Where the Energy in an Air Conditioner Goes

The compressor in most split air conditioning systems is housed in the outside cabinet. It makes the most noise of any of the mechanical components, which is why the outdoors is a good location for it. The peculiar hum of an AC when it is cooling down a home is the sound of the compressor in operation.

The compressor does provide the energy that changes the refrigerant in the AC’s system into a high-pressure, hot gas. Electrically-powered motors run the compressor, which operates similar to a piston engine. The compressor reduces the volume on the liquid refrigerant inside it, which changes the refrigerant into a hot gas. The high-pressure gas then moves to the next area of low pressure, which is the outdoor condenser coil. The refrigerant releases heat to the outdoors and continues its cycle to the indoor coil, where it absorbs heat and then returns to the compressor to start the process over again.

The compressor therefore acts as the central “motor” of the AC that keeps the refrigerant moving through the two sets of coils and gives the energy to the refrigerant that allows it to carry out heat exchange. If the compressor becomes damaged, it will cause the AC to stop working—it may even need to be replaced entirely. Make sure that you call on professionals to repair the system as soon as you detect any performance issues. This will see that the compressor stays in top shape.

If you need services for your air conditioning system in the greater Los Angeles, CA area or the San Fernando Valley, call on Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical.

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