There are several misconceptions about the air conditioning system and how it works. This post will correct some of those misconceptions as we answer your question, How Does Air Conditioning Work?

We will also explain some of the components involved and the essence of each in the cooling and heating process. From a layman’s perspective, most people believe air conditioners merely generate cool air from space and blow it into their homes to cool it. This is not so, and you will understand in a moment.

Air conditioning cools a place by removing the hot air in the room, taking it through a process that returns it inside cooled.  To do this, air conditioners use a special type of chemical known as a refrigerant. So, how exactly does air conditioning work? We’ll answer that question soon but first, let’s go over the core parts of an air conditioning system and how they work.

Major Parts of An Air Conditioning System and How They Function

There are three core parts of an air conditioning system and many minor parts. The components in the first group are the evaporator, compressor, and condenser. The components in the other group include the blower, fan, filter, thermostat, and so on. Here are some brief facts about these components:


The evaporator is the part of an air conditioning system located on the inside of a room. The cooling process begins when the evaporator sucks in the heat in a room and passes it to other components. Once the evaporator passes the hot air to the compressor, its next function is to ferry the cooled air back when it comes in from the condenser.

From there, the liquid evaporates and turns into gas form again. The gas is then blown as cooled air into the room, which helps to reduce the temperature until it gets to the desired level.


The compressor is known as the heart of the system. It pumps the refrigerant through the system, facilitating the transfer process that changes the form of the air. It passes the heat from the evaporator to the condenser and the cooled air from the condenser to the evaporator. This part of the air conditioning unit converts the refrigerant from gas to liquid to gas again.


The condenser is the final of the major trio that determines how air conditioning works. It releases the heat outside in a liquid form before the refrigerant turns back to the compressor to begin the routine in reverse. Through the repetition of these steps, the air in a room cools to the temperature you desire.


The blower is located in the inside unit along with the evaporator, and its function is to circulate cooled air into the room. This part is like a fan, its rotation aiding its function as it blows the cooled air coming from the compressor over the evaporator and disperses it into the room.


Just like the blower works with the evaporator, the fan works with the condenser. It helps to blow the hot air gathered from inside over the condenser and dissipate it outside.


The filter works to remove lint, dust, and other particles from the air before the air is released into the room. The outer parts of the air conditioning system might have some dirt accumulated in them over time.

These specks of dirt can cause a lot of adverse effects if they get into the home. The filter works to keep them out. The filter is located between the evaporator and the air vents in the inside unit.


The thermostat is the control dial that regulates the amount of cool air distributed within the room. The lower you set the thermostat, the colder the room gets. On average, you can set the thermostat to 20 C.

How Air Conditioning Works in General

On how air conditioning works, all of the components listed above work together seamlessly to produce the result. With some parts of the air conditioning unit located inside and others outside, the work is continuously going on both ends. The indoor unit, known as the cold side of the air conditioning system, works to get the hot air and humidity from inside the room out.

After the refrigerant cools the air in the compressor, it is released into the room in a cool form. The components here include the evaporator, blower, filter, etc.

Conversely, the outdoor unit is located outside the building, and its work is to dissipate the hot air outside. When the hot air mixes with the refrigerant in the compressor to convert the latter into liquid form, it is pushed to the condenser, where the fan blows it away. The fan then gathers outdoor air to dissipate the heat so the cooling process can begin again.

The result is that heat leaves the room, cool air comes in, and heat is released outside.

How Air Conditioning Works on a Professional Level

We have explained how air conditioning works might be enough to enlighten someone new to HVAC systems. However, the process can be more technical than that.

While the process of how air conditioning works can be explained as heat and humidity leaving the room and cool air entering the room, that is not all there is to it. The whole process requires all that we have discussed to come together as one.

Air Conditioner Protocol

The answer to how air conditioning works is that the various indoor and outdoor components follow a protocol. This protocol enhances what Willis Carrier, the father of air conditioning, first drew in 1902. Since then, studies have been elaborating on how the HVAC systems work. We will harmonize the process for you.

To start with, when you are using your air conditioning unit, you set the temperature you desire the room to be in. The thermostat discovers the disparity between the desired temperature and the current temperature of your room.

Then, it puts the indoor components to work. The blower gathers the heat and humidity, making the room hot and pushing it through the filter and evaporator to the compressor.

When the hot air gets to the compressor, it turns the refrigerant from the gas into liquid. The refrigerant is the chemical that facilitates the cooling process. As the name suggests, it is the chemical responsible for making refrigerators cool when you keep things in them.

After the filtered air passes over the evaporator to the condenser, the liquid refrigerant converts to gas, and the heat is absorbed in it. The result is cooled air which the blower pumps back through the duct into the room.

How the Outdoor Unit Works

While the indoor unit is working on bringing cool air into the home or office, the outdoor unit is also working. Once the refrigerant leaves the compressor in gaseous form, it goes on to the condenser. The fan by the condenser then blows the heat away from the unit into space.

While this is going on, the refrigerant changes back to liquid form and travels back to the indoor unit. The refrigerant moves back to the evaporator and absorbs more heat from the room to push back again. This forms a cycle that repeats itself until the desired temperature is attained.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now, that you know how air conditioning works, you may have some questions you want to ask about air conditioning generally. We will answer those questions here, and if there is something else you would like to know, send us a message here or book an appointment here. Now to the questions:

Is There Only One Type of Air Conditioning System?

No, there are different types of air conditioning systems. The most common one is the split-system air conditioner, which is also known as central air. However, there are other types, such as the packaged air-conditioner and the ductless air conditioner.

The process of how air conditioning works is similar for all these types. Ask Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration for the best air conditioning system for your home or office.

How Does Air Conditioning in a Car Work?

How air conditioning works in cars is similar to that of a building. The exact process is followed, but the main difference is in the size and method of operation. The air conditioner in cars is powered by electricity, and the core parts rely on various parts of the vehicle to function.

Where Can I Get Air Conditioning Installed Around Me?

If your home or office is located in Florida or surrounding areas, call Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration now to help you install air conditioning units in your home or office. We have an efficient setup that responds to clients 24/7, and we deliver speedy services. We have a diversified work environment where you can choose who you want to work with.

Is Air Conditioning Expensive?

Contrary to popular belief, air conditioning is not expensive. From the installation to the maintenance, using an air conditioning system is cheaper than most alternatives. If you live in Boca Raton, you can know the cost of AC repair in your area. You can also contact us directly to give you a quote. Reach Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restorationhere.

Contact Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration for Your Air Conditioning Needs in Boca Raton

Finally, you now know how air conditioning works and how every step affects the whole process. This knowledge will guide you when buying an air conditioning system. It will also help you when your air conditioning system gets faulty.

Since you already know what comprises the system and the function of each, it is easier to know which is not functioning properly. If you need professional help, reach out to Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Restoration.

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