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What Are Air Conditioning Coils?

Do you know how your air conditioner works? If not, don’t worry, most homeowners actually don’t either. The process for cooling the air in your home relies on lots of different things to work right, and many different components in your system all need to work properly in order for this process to be possible. Of all these components, perhaps none are more important that the “coils” in your air conditioner. What are these components and what do they do? Read on for a brief description of what they do and why it’s important to make sure they’re cared for.

What Coils Do

Coils are the primary device for heat transfer in your air conditioning and central heating systems. Heat transfer is essentially the central principal of how your air conditioner works: your indoor unit extracts heat from your indoor air and sends it outside where it is then transferred back into the atmosphere. As a result, the air inside cools and the air outside gets warmer.

To do this, your air conditioner actually has two sets of coils: evaporator coils, and condenser coils.

Evaporator Coils
Your evaporator coils are found in your indoor unit, near the blower fan. Your evaporator coils work on the same principle that your own body does when it sweats to keep you cool—a process known as “evaporative cooling.”

These coils are fed cold refrigerant, which makes the metal coils themselves cold. The cold metal surface causes water to condense out of the air, which then cools air that the blower motor forces over the coils themselves. At the same time, the heat that was in this air is absorbed by the refrigerant in your coils and sent back outside your home, creating the cool, treated air. The blower fan then sends the air that has been cooled and dried out back into your home, which keeps you cool and comfortable. This also explains how air conditioners act as de-humidifiers.

Condenser Coils
The condenser coils are the equally-important other half of your air conditioning system that are found outside your home. Once the refrigerant has passed through the long path made up by your evaporator coils, it’s then sent along copper pipes back out to your outdoor unit, where it is put through a device called a “heat pump.” The heat pump condenses your refrigerant, causing it to turn from a hot liquid to a super-hot gas. The gas is then fed along more copper pipe to your condenser coils.

Your condenser is actually a whole unit with several parts, but to put it simple, the hot gaseous refrigerant is fed along the exposed copper network known as your condenser coils. While in this area, a fan pulls air over the coils, causing the refrigerant inside to cool and the heat to be ejected out into the atmosphere, which is why the air coming from your outdoor unit feels so hot. From there, the cooler gas refrigerant is fed along more lines back into your home to one final device: an expansion valve, which allows the refrigerant to de-compress, turning back into liquid form, which also causes the refrigerant to become cold again and then start the process all over back at your evaporator core.

Why the Coil Shape?

Why are coils in the weaving pattern shape we see them in? Simple: in both your evaporator and condenser coils, you want to give the refrigerant as much time as possible to be exposed to the airflow created by the blower motors. This allows for the most heat transfer, which makes your entire system more energy-efficient. In your evaporator core, that means more air will be blown over the cold refrigerant, allowing it to absorb the most heat and make your home even colder. In your condenser unit, the longer path means your refrigerant can shed more heat, meaning it gets back to your expansion chamber cooler, allowing it to get even colder before being fed back into your indoor unit.

If you’re experiencing an issue with either your evaporator or condenser coils, or you need your coils cleaned, schedule a service appointment with our Palm Beach County air conditioning experts today! Call Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC at (888) 660-4337 to find out more.

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