How does a household air conditioner work?

An inexpensive home air conditioner has long ceased to be a cherished dream. Now manufacturers produce dozens of budget models. The split system has ceased to be a curiosity, so it is not surprising that many people are thinking about buying an air conditioner.

In this article, you will learn how air conditioners are arranged and how they work in an apartment. We will tell you about the important nuances that should be taken into account if you decide to understand the principle of operation of the air conditioning system. You will learn what components the air conditioner consists of, what causes cooling, and why freon is needed.

General information

air conditioner in apartment


In this article, we will talk about the most common type of household air conditioner — a split system.

The air conditioning system consists of an external (outdoor) unit and an indoor unit. They are connected to each other by means of a system of copper tubes through which the refrigerating agent (aka refrigerant or simply freon) circulates.

During the circulation, freon enters different «departments» of the split system, where it turns from a liquid state to a gaseous state, after which it condenses and cools. After that, the whole process starts again.

The outdoor unit is installed on the street side (most often, on the roof or facade of a building), and the indoor unit is installed indoors. The indoor unit can be installed on the wall, floor, in special niches or in the interstitial space. One indoor unit can be connected to one outdoor unit. There are also outdoor units to which you can attach from two to eight units. They are called multi-split systems.

Main components of the split system

How to clean the air conditioner drainage with your own hands

The split system consists of a number of critical components. Let’s list the main ones:

  • Compressor. It is necessary for the movement of freon through the air conditioning system. In fact, it is the heart of the entire split system;

  • The capacitor. Located in the outdoor unit, it is responsible for cooling the gaseous refrigerant, due to which freon condenses and becomes liquid;

  • Throttle. It is necessary to lower the pressure, which helps to reduce the temperature of the refrigerant;

  • Vaporizer. It is necessary for heating freon with subsequent evaporation. Located in the indoor unit;

  • Fans. They are necessary for directing the air flow. The fans are located in both the outdoor and indoor unit;

  • Communications. They are small-diameter copper pipes connecting the outdoor unit and the indoor unit. Freon circulates through the tubes.

There are also a number of additional components in the indoor unit:

  • Filters. Designed for cleaning the air from dust and allergens. Need regular replacement;

  • Display or LED indicators. They display all the basic information that the consumer should know when using the air conditioner;

  • Drainage system. It is necessary for the collection and removal of condensate outside the room;

  • Blinds. Designed to adjust the direction of air flow.

How does such a system work?

split system work


The basic components of a split system are a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator and a throttle. They are responsible for the evaporation and condensation of the refrigerating agent. These components are connected to each other by means of copper tubes. The refrigerating agent circulates through them.

The cycle starts with the evaporator. Freon enters the evaporator where, as you might guess, it evaporates, turning into a gas. Through the evaporator, the freon gas enters the compressor, where it is compressed. At the same time, the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant increases. Under high pressure and at high temperature, the freon gas enters the condenser. There it cools and condenses, becoming liquid. I.e., it changes its state. At the same time, freon gives off the heat that it took from the room. Next, the freon enters the throttle. At this stage, it is in a liquid state and under high pressure. After passing the throttle, the freon pressure decreases. At the same time, its temperature also decreases.

The cooled liquid freon again takes the warm air out of the room and enters the evaporator. The cycle is closed. It lasts continuously as long as the air conditioner is on. This is an ongoing process.

When working on cooling, the whole process looks the same, but is carried out in the opposite direction.


Now you know what the principle of operation of air conditioners in the apartment is. Despite all the technology, the modern split system is very similar to the usual refrigerator. And there, and there freon goes through a cycle of transformations from the liquid state to the gaseous state and back. We hope this material was useful for you. Have you ever used an air conditioner? Share your experience in the comments below. Good luck!

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