A car's air conditioning system functions by removing heat and humidity from the air inside the car, resulting in cooler and more comfortable conditions for the occupants. The primary components of an air conditioning system are:
- Compressor: The compressor is driven by the car's engine and is responsible for pressurizing the refrigerant gas (usually a substance called R-134a) before sending it to the condenser.
- Condenser: The condenser is located in front of the car's radiator and acts as a heat exchanger. When the pressurized refrigerant gas flows through the condenser, it releases heat and transforms into a high-pressure liquid.
- Receiver/Dryer: The receiver/dryer is a container that stores the refrigerant when the AC system is not in use. It also contains a desiccant that absorbs any moisture in the system.
- Expansion Valve/Orifice Tube: The expansion valve (used in most modern cars) or orifice tube (used in older models) regulates the flow of the refrigerant from the high-pressure side to the low-pressure side of the system. This causes the refrigerant to rapidly expand and cool down.
- Evaporator: The evaporator is typically located inside the car's dashboard and cools down the air before it is blown out through the vents. As the refrigerant passes through the evaporator, it absorbs heat from the air, causing the air to become cool.
- Blower/Fan: The blower or fan circulates the cooled air from the evaporator into the car's cabin, providing air conditioning to the occupants.
The process starts when the driver activates the air conditioning system via a control panel in the car. The compressor begins to compress the refrigerant gas, which then flows through the condenser, releasing heat and transforming into a high-pressure liquid. The liquid refrigerant passes through the receiver/dryer, where any moisture is removed, and then moves through the expansion valve or orifice tube. As it expands, it cools down and enters the evaporator, where it absorbs heat from the air inside the car. The blower or fan then circulates the cooled air into the cabin, creating a comfortable environment. After this, the refrigerant completes the cycle by returning to the compressor to be pressurized and start the process again.