Air Conditioner Components - There are big differences between heat pumps and air conditioners. While the air conditioner provides cooling the heat pump will provide heating and cooling so the components inside the air conditioner differ from the components inside the heat pump system. I constantly get emails from people asking if they can convert their air conditioner to a heat pump and of course they can but it is not recommended. I have even devoted an article to it for those who are considering converting their air conditioner to a heat pump. After all, if you sit a heat pump next to a condenser it would be impossible to tell the difference from the air conditioner condenser to the heat pump condenser unless you looked inside the unit and was able to identify the different components from a heat pump to an air conditioner. Here are the basic components of an air conditioner that make the air conditioner cool your home or business.
Air Conditioner Components | The Condenser
Okay so the condensing unit has components inside it also but it is an important component of an air conditioner. Without the condenser, the air conditioner would not work. Inside the conventional condenser include the following components and their function:
- Compressor - the compressor is a very important component in the refrigeration process. The refrigeration process is how the AC cools. Another way to put it is that the air conditioner removes heat from the building. It moves the heat from a place where it is not wanted to a place where it makes no difference. The compressor pumps the refrigerant throughout the refrigeration system. The refrigerant, in an AC, carries the heat from the inside to the outside. Or from the air handler where the evaporator is to the condensers that will reject the heat out of the refrigerant into the air outside.
- Condenser Coils - the condenser coils carry the refrigerant. These coils are usually copper or aluminum coils and are hermetically sealed running in series with the compressor which receives hot vapor from the air handler and removes the heat until the vapor turns into liquid. If the coils are blocked the heat exchange process is inhibited. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the coils clean.
Additional Condenser Electrical Components
- The Condenser Fan Motor - the condenser fan motor is an integral component for the condenser as it is responsible for pulling air through the condenser coils to remove the heat. As air is pulled through the coils a heat exchange process takes place where heat is rejected from the refrigerant. As the heat is rejected from the refrigerant it changes state from a vapor to a liquid.
- Condenser Electrical Components - the condenser electrical components offer a way to control the condenser through various relays and contactors along with a possible printed circuit board depending on the complexity of the system you have. Running into the condenser will include control voltage (24 volts) and usually 240 volts in the typical residential system. So you will have line voltage and control voltage sourced from different places. The line voltage is typically a dedicated circuit from the main panel with its very own breaker for the condenser while the control voltage originates from the air handler where there is a step-down control transformer. This is the control circuit that runs from the air handler to the thermostat and to the condenser to control everything via the thermostat.
- Of course, we would be remiss if we did not mention the cabinet of the condensing unit.
Air Conditioner Components | The Air Handler
The air handler in an air conditioner system houses similar components as the condenser but they serve an entirely different purpose.
- The evaporator coil is much the same as the condenser coils except the evaporator coils absorb heat while the condenser ejects the heat. The evaporator may or may not be in the air handler itself but the evaporator coils are typically installed near the air handler in the duct work or in the air handler itself. The evaporator coils are always installed downstream from the air handler and the blower as the air leaving the evaporator coil is saturated air and you do not want the saturated air inside the air handler or the blower motor to prevent sweating. This is why it is very important that the duct work downstream of the evaporator coil is insulated with a vapor barrier to prevent the duct work and the insulation from getting wet especially in exposed areas like crawls spaces and attic areas.
- The blower motor blows air throughout the duct work and into the spaces. It also blows air across the evaporator coil.
- The metering device for the process of refrigeration.
- And the controls just as the condenser has controls such as relays and contactors. Sometimes printed circuit boards depending on the complexity of the system you have. An additional control that the condenser does not have is the step-down transformer mentioned earlier.
- Then there is the air handler cabinet.
Do you have a heat pump instead of an air conditioner? See our comprehensive heat pump category for help with heat pumps:
Furthermore, additional heat pump resources here:
- Heat Pump Troubleshooting.
- Heat Pump Problems
- Heat Pump Sequence of Operation
- Basic Maintenance for Heat Pumps
- How Heat Pumps Work
- Converting and Air Conditioner to a HeatPump
- Heat Pump Breaker Trips
Air Conditioner Components | HVAC Cooling