How Air Conditioner Compressor Works

Air conditioner operates via a strike balance of its components which contribute towards making a real home feel cool air, especially during the hot humid weather these days. In order for the air conditioner to be in a good operational condition, each part of the air conditioner has to be in an excellent running condition but a few of these components certainly deserve much more special attention. One of them we are referring to is the compressor which is primarily the “heart” of an air conditioner and such that without a working compressor in place there will not be any cool air. That shows how important is a compressor to the overall air conditioning system.

Now, let’s take a look at how the air conditioner compressor works in an air conditioning system. The compressor is the component of the air conditioning system which raises the pressure and temperature of the vapour refrigerant that is leaving the evaporator coil. Air conditioners consist of 4 basic mechanical parts, namely, compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator coil. For a split air conditioner, there are 2 main parts i.e. the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, whereby, the evaporator coil, etc. are in the indoor unit, whilst the compressor, condenser, expansion valve, etc. are in the outdoor unit. The air conditioner works by changing a refrigerant material into a liquid state from a gaseous state and then back again in a continuous cycle.

It is vital for the compressor to increase the pressure of the vapour refrigerant thereby creating a pressure difference in order for the refrigerant to flow with high pressure fluids flowing towards lower pressure fluid in the evaporator coil. As the compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant which in turn increases the temperature and the direction of the heat transfer from higher temperature material to lower temperature material with the lower temperature within the evaporator coil whilst the higher temperature within the condenser and compressor. Next, it is vital that temperature of the freon refrigerant to be increased as the refrigerant will be so hot that makes the hot air outside to be cooler even in the hot weather, hence, with the air outside cooler allowing the heat in the refrigerant to be transferred to it when it goes through the condenser coils. Then, the heat inside the room space at the evaporator coil where it originated was transferred to the refrigerant. It is therefore vital for the compressor to increase the temperature so as to complete in the removal of the heat from inside the room space to the condenser. From another perspective, as the refrigerant releases its heat and condenses into a liquid which in turn it continues on its way to the indoor unit of the air conditioner, whereby the refrigerant would evaporate into a gaseous state again before absorbing the heat from inside your home after which the refrigerant returns to the compressor and the cycle starts all over again.

In other words, the compressor acts as the “heart” of the air conditioner cooling cycle and this cycle starts with the compressor drawing in cool, lowered pressure refrigerant gas or vapour refrigerant from the inside of the room space. The sole function of the compressor that is run by a motor is to “compress” the refrigerant, thereby increasing its pressure and temperature such that it will come out of the compressor as a high-pressured, hot gas. Subsequently, the compressor forces the hot gas out into the finned condenser coil of the outdoor unit of the air conditioner in which the fan there would blow the cool air outside against the coil, through which its fins start to extract the heat from the refrigerant and moving it to the air outside. As and when sufficient heat was extracted from this refrigerant, it would condense and become a warm liquid which then moves with high pressure into the expansion valve where the refrigerant is turned into lowered pressure, cool liquid. The refrigerant, then, moves from the expansion valve in the outdoor unit of the air conditioner to the finned evaporator coil of the indoor unit or room space of the air conditioner.

Finally, as the refrigerant moves into the evaporator coil in lowered pressure, it evaporates and turns into gas. But, in order to do this conversion of the refrigerant into gas from liquid would require heat and the solution is to draw the heat from the warm air of the room that is blown against the evaporator coil with another fan. Then, whilst the room heat is moved to the evaporating refrigerant, the air of the room gets cooler and the refrigerant is back to a lowered pressure, cool gas which gets back into the compressor in order to continue with the cycle. This cycle keeps going whilst generating cooling airflow inside the room space.

From the functions of the compressor described above, it seems that the compressor undergoes to such a great deal of stress during the hot season when it is used most and this of course will wear it down in the same way a motor will. Also, the dust and grime contamination will affect it dearly causing it to get stuck as this will eventually stop its cooling cycle and if this happens, usually the compressor has to be replaced. Certainly, a malfunction in the motor of the compressor will not be able to generate the cooling effect. Other than that; compressors will develop leakages at their connectors over time which may cause loss of refrigerant as any drop in the refrigerant charge could lead to the damage of the compressor.

If you suspect any problem with the compressor in your air conditioning system which can be detected by its odd sounds when it starts up, loss of its cooling effect or icing on the coils, etc. please do call us or Whatsapp us for any air conditioner repairs, installation and servicing needs in KL and Selangor.