As long as all the parts are working well, air conditioning in Tampa is a modern convenience we can easily take for granted and overlook. Cool air makes our lives simply better, but is a complicated process based on an old theory and modern technology.
No matter the size, in every unit, the basic purpose is one of extracting heat from the conditioned space and moving it to the outside, leaving cool air in its place. This process easily divides into indoor and outdoor components.
Air Conditioning 101
Utilizing the basic principal of thermal energy that heat gravitates toward cooler temperatures, compounds known as refrigerants travel through a closed looped system, repeatedly transforming between liquid and gas forms. Chosen for their ability to rapidly change at low temperatures, they alternately absorb and release heat along the way.
Having expanded to a vacuous state with plenty of room between molecules to absorb heat, the refrigerant is compressed tightly, condenses back into liquid form and releases the heat to the outdoors.
In the Box Outside
Placed on a small slab on the ground alongside many homes or on the roof of large buildings, air conditioning units contain the compressor and condensing coils that enable the main (and noisiest) function of the process.
The refrigerant is contained within a closed loop, entering the compressor as an expanded gas full of heat. Under pressure, that heat is released when the molecules are squeezed so tightly together the refrigerant returns to its liquid state.
Then passing into the condensing coils, a series of delicate fins, the released heat is allowed to dissipate through the fins into the air where a small fan blows it away. Water is also a by-product of the condensation and drains into a pan and eventually into the ground.
The condensing coil ends at the exchange valve where it is held to create just the right pressure for the evaporating coil indoors to operate at its maximum efficiency.