The job of the compressor is to move liquid refrigerant around in a pipe. The compressor pumps, or forces, the liquid from the evaporator into a condenser and expansion valve, and then back to the evaporator. The engine drives the compressor with a belt. In action, the compressor takes the low pressure refrigerant from the evaporator and compresses it according to speed and air temperature. The inlet side is known as the low (pressure) side and the outlet side is known as the high (pressure) side. The compressor compresses the refrigerant, and raises its temperature higher than that of the surrounding air. Then, the compressor forces the refrigerant into the condenser.
Five major components to auto air conditioning:
- the compressor, which compresses the refrigerant in the system (on modern cars, usually a substance called R-134a)
- the refrigerant, which carries the heat
- the condensor, which gets hot when the compressed refrigerant goes through it
- the expansion valve, which isn't really a valve at all but more like a nozzle
- the dryer/evaporator, which adds heat to the refrigerant, cooling your car