What is the difference between an A/C compressor and an A/C condenser?

July 28, 2022

What is the difference between an A/C compressor and an A/C condenser?

As we wind down another summer, we hope you have a welcome cool respite inside your air-conditioned home. At A.J. Perri of Tinton Falls, N.J., we make it our business to understand how an air conditioner works so you can stay cool during the hottest summer months. Have you ever wondered how your home's A/C unit keeps pumping cool air? Here's a quick primer on what's going on behind the scenes.

The basics

Air conditioners work by pumping cool air into your house, right? Not really. Your A/C unit keeps things cool by removing heat from the air and recirculating it in all its cool goodness. A refrigerant like Freon is used to accomplish this refreshing miracle.

Your A/C system comprises an evaporator, a condenser, and a compressor. The compressor is the heart and soul of the system, connecting the evaporator inside your system to the condenser outside. A/C cycles start with your thermostat. During the summer, you set your thermostat to an ideal temperature that (hopefully) your entire household agrees on. When the temperature indoors rises above that ideal temperature, your thermostat sends a signal saying it's time to get to work.

When the A/C unit pulls warm air through your home's return vents, it sends them to the evaporator unit, which is filled with refrigerant. This refrigerant absorbs heat from your home's stuffy air and moves cooler air back into your home. The refrigerant then leaves the evaporator in the form of low-pressure gas.

Now it's the compressor's turn. To release the accumulated heat, the compressor must transform the refrigerant into a higher temperature, higher pressure gas. It accomplishes this by packing the refrigerant molecules tightly, raising their temperature and pressure. The heated refrigerant moves onto the condenser unit outdoors, where the heat is released.

The refrigerant now leaves the condenser and moves onto the expansion valve. Here, it is depressurized and cooled into a low-pressure liquid. This liquid moves back to the evaporator, ready to continue the cycle until your home reaches the desired temperature.

Your home's A/C unit is an intricate piece of equipment that may be hard to understand in layman's terms. Fortunately, A.J. Perri's HVAC technicians understand how A/C works and can keep it running during the warm New Jersey summers. Don't sweat it out because you're unsure how to keep the cool air coming. Call A.J. Perri or contact us online. We're here to make sense of your system and keep you comfortable at any temperature.

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Last Updated: June 30, 2023