Your heating and air conditioning system is perhaps the most mechanically complex equipment in your house. Cal Air Cooling and Heating gives you an overview of how a typical HVAC system works.
Condenser and Evaporator Units
HVAC contractors would say that heating and cooling units come in several configurations, but all of them consist of two major components: the condenser and the evaporator units. The latter component houses what can be considered the heart of the HVAC system: the compressor. What it does is it compresses the refrigerant (HFC-410A or R-410A) to the point where it turns into a liquid, after which it is released.
This part of the process releases a great amount of heat, which is vented through the condenser coils. As the refrigerant expands to its normal state, it becomes much cooler and is fed through the evaporator coils. Filtered air is then blown through the coils, releasing cold air. The now decompressed refrigerant then gets fed back into the compressor to be compressed again.
Certain types of HVAC systems, known as air-source heat pumps, have reversible compressors that pump the heat generated by the decompressing refrigerant indoors.
HVAC systems come in different configurations:
- Window – This type houses the entire system in a single enclosure, and is installed on a window sill or a wall opening. For small, single-story homes or a medium to large room, this type of AC is often enough, contractors say.
- Split – This features an outdoor unit that houses the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that houses the air filter and evaporator. This type requires a much smaller opening for the connecting piping and allows more flexibility with furniture placement. A similar configuration called a packaged air conditioner allows several indoor units to connect to a single compressor. This allows for better control of the individual room temperatures.
- Ducted – A single HVAC unit connects to the home’s ductwork. Room temperatures are controlled using dampers that are hooked up to thermostats. This is the ideal system for large, multi-story homes.