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What is an Air Conditioning Condenser?

Air Conditioning Condenser
Reading Time: 3 minutes

How well do you know your air conditioning system? Can you tell your condenser from your compressor? What about which filter you should use for your home and which one you should use for your office block? Perhaps you are sitting there wondering why knowing all this information is even relevant? The reality is that air conditioning is a huge part of your life, whether you realize it or not, and having some knowledge about the various components of your air conditioning (condenser, compressor, or filter) will help you when it comes to replacing, maintaining and repairing your system.

To begin with we are going to discuss the air conditioning condenser – what it is and how it works.

General Overview:
In general terms a condenser is component used in systems that call for heat transfer to occur. It is the device that is responsible for condensing a substance to a liquid state from its original gaseous state. It does this by cooling the substance down until it becomes a liquid. When this process occurs the condenser will transfer the latent heat, which is given off by the cooling gas, to the coolant. Often condensers will use the surrounding air or cooling water as coolant. More often than not used as a heat exchanger, condensers come in a wide array of sizes and designs, ranging from tiny hand held units to gigantic industrial size units. There are many types of systems that require the use of a condenser such as those found in factories and plants all the way down to your own home. Besides your home AC system, another common household condenser can be found in your refrigerator where it removes hot air from inside thus working to keep your food cool. Although condensers are crucial units in steam power plants, chemical processes and other industrial heat exchange systems, it is the air conditioning condenser that we are concerned with.

Air Conditioning Condenser:
As with the general condenser, the air conditioning component is, characteristically, the heat exchanger workhorse of your AC system. It cools and condenses a gaseous substance (typically refrigerant vapor) until it becomes a liquid. Furthermore, the condenser will also have a compressor that is used to increase the pressure of the liquefied gas, and then move it through the rest of the system. There should also be a fan that will carry outside air, to cool the refrigerant, through the heat exchanger.

If all this information has boggled your brain a little, here is a quick breakdown of the different parts and their configuration:

  • Heat Exchanger: You will find this section wrapped around the sides of your air conditioner.
  • Compressor: This will be found within the heat exchanger.
  • Refrigerant: The refrigerant will be found running through the maze of tubes on your unit. Special fins used for heat transfer will surround these tubes and will move cooling air inside the unit from the outside.
  • Fan: This is usually located inside and near the top of the condenser. It should be protected by a cover or grating in order to prevent obstructions to the fan. Using the sides and top of the grating cover, the fan (which is motorized) will blow cooling air from the outside, through the heat exchanger.

The final question you are probably asking yourself is where can you actually find the entire condenser unit. The answer is simple – if you have ever noticed the big AC boxes on the outside of your building, with tubing attaching them to your building then you have seen the condenser.

Now that you know a little – or a lot – more about the air conditioning condenser, stay tuned to Art Plumbing And Air Conditioning to learn about the other key components of your AC unit, such as compressors, filters and ducts!


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