What is an Outdoor Condenser?

Air conditioning systems involve an intricate process to cool your home. Outdoor condensers make up the first part of this system. Outdoor condensing units usually work in a two-part air-conditioning system, which includes mini-splits and central air conditioning.

In split systems, the outdoor condenser works along with an indoor component, like an air handler, to adjust the temperature in your home. The indoor unit extracts heat from the air, transferring that heat to the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit disposes of that excess heat into the outdoor air to keep your home cool.

What parts make up an outdoor condenser?

While what we explained above seems fairly simple, the outdoor unit uses quite a few parts to complete this process. Some parts involved in this process include:


Refrigerant lines carry refrigerant through the indoor and outdoor units. The refrigerant changes states when passing through the evaporator and condenser coils as it absorbs or releases heat.

Condenser Coils

The condenser coils reside in the outdoor condenser unit. The refrigerant travels through the evaporator coil (located inside the indoor unit). Here, the refrigerant absorbs heat, which turns it from a liquid into a gas. After this, the refrigerant travels to the condenser coil (located inside the outdoor unit). The condenser coil cools the refrigerant, allowing the refrigerant to turn back into a liquid as it releases the heat energy. The cycle then starts over.


The compressor moves the refrigerant through your cooling system. The compressor adds pressure to the refrigerant, which increases the temperature, for the heat to transfer.

Where do you install a condenser unit?

Typically, you install the condenser unit outdoors. These units work best in open, uncovered areas with little sunlight. According to the United States Department of Energy, you want to keep at least two feet of distance from any trees or shrubbery for adequate airflow.

What is the difference between an AC condenser and a heat pump?

Heat pumps offer the ability to heat while an AC condenser can typically only cool. Similar to a split-system AC system, the coil and refrigerant in the heat pump work to cool the home. However, heat pumps can reverse the process, allowing them to pull heat from the outside air. Ultimately, using a similar system, the coils and refrigerant carry the heat indoors to warm a home.


Keep your home comfortable with a variety of air conditioner and ventilation options available at HomElectrical!

Avery Dietzen
Avery Dietzen

Originally from Wisconsin, Avery earned her degree in English before making the trip down to the Atlanta, GA area. Writer by day, reader by night, she prides herself on having a creative outlook and tries to instill that in everything she writes. As a content writer for HomElectrical, she uses her skills to share tips and tricks about lighting, HVAC, and going green. If she’s not writing, she’s reading, painting, hanging out with her dog, or spending time with family and friends.

Need Assistance?