Liquid refrigerant is pumped through an expansion device at the indoor coil, which is functioning as the evaporator. Air from inside the house is blown across the coils, where heat energy is absorbed by the refrigerant. The resulting cool air is blown throughout the home’s ducts. The process of absorbing the heat energy has caused the liquid refrigerant to heat up and evaporate into gas form.
The gaseous refrigerant now passes through a compressor, which pressurizes the gas. The process of pressurizing the gas causes it to heat up (a physical property of compressed gases). The hot, pressurized refrigerant moves through the system to the coil in the outdoor unit.
A fan in the outdoor unit moves outside air across the coils, which are serving as condenser coils in cooling mode. Because the air outside the home is cooler than the hot compressed gas refrigerant in the coil, heat is transferred from the refrigerant to the outside air. During this process, the refrigerant condenses back to a liquid state as it cools. The warm liquid refrigerant is pumped through the system to the expansion valve at the indoor units.
The expansion valve reduces the pressure of the warm liquid refrigerant, which cools it significantly. At this point, the refrigerant is in a cool, liquid state and ready to be pumped back to the evaporator coil in the indoor unit to begin the cycle again.