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Central Air Conditioner System Operation & Components

A central air conditioning system is made up of four major components:

central air conditioner components: outdoor unit, evaporator, line set, blower
  • The condenser – is the unit that sits outside your home and contains the compressor, condensing coil, fan and motor and all the system’s electrical components.
  • The evaporator – also known as the A coil - because of it’s A shape, is installed inside your furnace’s duct system.  This coil must be properly matched to the outside unit and should always be replaced when you purchase a new cooling system in order to maintain maximum system efficiency and prolong the life of your new air conditioner.
  • The line set – The line set is the copper tubing that connects the evaporator to the condenser.  The black insulation or armaflex on this tubing keeps it from sweating as the cold refrigerant passes through it.  The line set can normally be reused as long as it is properly sized, has no leaks and we are using the same type of refrigerant.  We will cover the two types of refrigerants in just a moment.
  • The blower – The blower is provided by your heating system, in other words, your furnace.  This is arguably the most important part of your cooling system.  Everything your new cooling system is capable of doing is dependant upon proper airflow through the A coil.  If your blower is old or dirty it may move too little air and the cooling system will freeze up.  Poor airflow will cause your lower level to get very cold and your upper floors to get very warm.  This is a very common problem and one reason many customers consider replacing older furnaces when they replace their cooling system – the heat works fine but the airflow is marginal.  However, if your furnace blower is in good shape replacing your heating system is not necessary.

Here's how an Air Conditioner System Works

A central air conditioner uses refrigerant, pumped by the compressor, to transport the hot air inside your home, outside. The condensing coil outside dumps the heat into the atmosphere while the A coil inside releases the cool air into your home at the same time absorbing heat and repeating the cycle again. The furnace fan distributes the cool air inside your home while the condenser fan dumps the hot air out side. That’s why the air coming out the top of your condenser is hot – it’s the hot air from your home. The cold air coming out of your vents is the result of the refrigerant evaporating in the A coil – that’s why they call it an evaporator.  Of course it’s not quite that simple, but for our purposes lets leave it at that.