Air-conditioning, Special Features

What are the residential air conditioning cycles?

The air conditioning cycle, also known as the refrigeration cycle.

Residential air conditioning works using a thermodynamic cycle to remove heat from inside a home and transfer it outside, leaving a cool, comfortable indoor environment. The general process of operating a residential air conditioner can be described in the following steps:

  • Compression: The process begins with the compressor, which compresses the gaseous refrigerant in the system. By compressing the gas, its temperature and pressure increase.
  • Condensation: The high-pressure, high-temperature refrigerant leaves the compressor and enters the condenser, located in the outdoor unit of the air conditioner. In the condenser, the refrigerant gives up heat to the outside environment, releasing the thermal energy it collected from inside the home.
  • Expansion: The now cooled, high pressure refrigerant is sent through an expansion valve or expansion device, where it expands rapidly. Expanding, the refrigerant becomes a cold, low-pressure gas.
  • Evaporation: The cold refrigerant enters the evaporator, which is located in the indoor unit of the air conditioner. Inside the evaporator, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air, cooling it and lowering the temperature in the room.
  • Air Circulation: A fan in the indoor unit of the air conditioner circulates room air through the evaporator, where it is cooled, and then returns the cooled air to the room.
  • Continuous cycle: The refrigerant that has absorbed the heat from inside the house returns to the compressor to repeat the cycle. This process is repeated continuously until the desired temperature is reached inside the house.

It is important to mention that residential air conditioning systems can vary depending on the type of unit, such as window, split, central, mini split systems, among others. However, the basic principle of cooling the air through a thermodynamic cycle and transferring the heat to the outside applies to all of them.