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Understanding the Difference Between AC Condensers and Compressors

Air Conditioning System
A residential air conditioner allows you to keep your home comfortable and cool all summer long. It does so through the coordination of numerous different components. Each such component has its own specialized role to play. Yet if any of those components ceases to work correctly, your air conditioner may stop providing you with the desired results.
Understanding the components that make up your air conditioning system will help you to identify and prevent common problems. If you would like to learn more about the mechanics of an air conditioning system, read on. This article will improve your knowledge by discussing the differences between two commonly confused parts of an AC: compressors and condensers.

The Compressor

In order to cool your home, an air conditioner relies on the circulation of refrigerant. Liquid refrigerant flows to the evaporator unit inside your home, where it absorbs heat from your air. This heat causes the refrigerant to change into a gas. In order to absorb more heat, this gas must first be transformed back into a liquid.
This transformation happens in two key steps. The first step involves the action of the component known as the compressor. As its name implies, a compressor forces the gaseous refrigerant into a more compressed state. In other words, a compressor increases the amount of pressure being exerted on the refrigerant.
Such an increase in pressure also acts to raise the refrigerant's temperature. At first, this may seem counterproductive since the ultimate goal involves releasing heat from the refrigerant. Yet this goal can be achieved more easily with the refrigerant in a high-pressure state.
A compressor increases pressure through the action of a piston. As the piston moves back and forth, it draws gaseous refrigerant into the compression chamber. Once the gas has reached a predetermined pressure, the compression chamber releases the refrigerant, which flows on through tubing to the next component of the system - the condenser.

The Condenser

The condenser performs two important jobs. First, it dissipates the heat being carried by the refrigerant. Second, it changes the refrigerant from a gas back to a liquid. These two things happen in conjunction with one another. In other words, by dissipating the pressurized refrigerant's heat, the condenser promotes its transformation back into a liquid.
The main feature of the condenser is a long section of copper tubing, arranged as a series of coils. As the refrigerant flows through the condenser coils, its heat passes through the metal walls to the surrounding air. The coils increase the surface area of the refrigerant, in order to promote a more efficient transfer of heat.
Like the compressor, the condenser coil can also be found located inside of the outdoor portion of an air conditioner. Somewhat confusingly, this boxy structure often goes by the name of the condenser unit. In fact, many technicians consider the compressor to be part of the condenser, along with the coil.
The outside of a condenser unit also contains a series of thin metal fins. These fins help to release the heat given off by the refrigerant. Without the fins, excessive amounts of heat would soon build up inside of the condenser unit, making its various components more liable to overheat and breakdown.
A condenser unit also contains a fan, usually mounted on the box's top face. This fan further accelerates the process of cooling by pushing heat up and away from the condenser unit.
Both the compressor and the condenser must be kept in good working condition; otherwise, your air conditioner may cease to provide the cooling you desire. For more information on what it takes to keep your AC running at peak capacity all summer long, please contact the cooling pros at Action Air of Florida.


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