How Do Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners Work?

A reverse-cycle air conditioner is not an air conditioner at all but a type of heater. Reverse-cycle air conditioners work just like normal air conditioners only in reverse, transferring heat into the house instead of out of it.


Reverse-cycle air conditioners are much more efficient than other types of electric heaters. Many reverse-cycle air conditioners can move three units of heat for every unit of electrical energy they consume.


The compressor is a pump that powers the reverse-cycle air conditioner. The compressor pumps refrigerant through a series of chambers to transfer heat from outside the house to inside.


The refrigerant flows out of the compressor into the high-pressure condenser. When it is compressed, it heats up. That heat is blown by a fan into the room.


The refrigerant then flows through a narrow valve into the evaporator, a low-pressure chamber located outside the house. The refrigerant becomes extremely cold. Heat from the ground or air outside the house seeps into the evaporator, warming the refrigerant, which is then pumped back into the condenser.


Reverse-cycle air conditioners are usually reversible. They can be run in the opposite direction during the summer to cool the house.

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