What is an Air-Cooled Chiller?
An air-cooled chiller is basically a large, refrigerated, cooling system that sucks in the ambient air through its compressor grills to circulate around the refrigerant coils removing some of the heat. The heated air is then pushed back out of the unit by condenser cooling fans back into the environment as the refrigerant continues its movement through the system.
Components of the Air-Cooled Chillers and What Happens to the Refrigerant
An air-cooled chiller is basically composed of a compressor, a condenser, condenser cooling fans, expansion valve and an evaporator with a few other smaller, but important components. To help you better understand air-cooled chillers, we have used an educational video as found on YouTube, “Air Cooled Chillers – How do they work?” by The Engineering Mindset.com, Evans, P. (2017, August 14) to help you visualize entire process.
1. The “compressor” is the accelerator that pushes the refrigerant around the cooling system. When the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it is a “high pressured,” and it is an extremely “heated vapor.” As this heated vapor leaves the compressor, it makes its way to “distribution headers” of the condenser and into the condenser coils. (Special Note: As Evans points out, there are different types of compressors such as a “screw, scroll or reciprocating,” and we will go into further detail when we discuss your specific chiller needs.)
2. A “condenser” houses the coils moving the system’s refrigerant while the sucked in air circulates around these tubes to help begin the cooling process. After passing through the system’s condenser coils, the refrigerant passes into a “collection header.” At this point, the refrigerant is now a “saturated liquid of high pressure and medium temperature.” (Special Note: Another important point by Evans is that the metal sheets that surround the condenser can be easily damaged.)
3. “Condenser cooling fans” push the heated, surface air out of the condenser that circulated and mildly cooled the condenser coils.
As the saturated liquid passes through the collection header, it enters what is known as the “filter drier” that stops any water or oils from passing through that could cause damage to the system.
4. From the filter drier, the saturated liquid passes into an “expansion valve.” At this point, the liquid has changed to a “low pressure and a low-temperature mixture of liquid and vapor.”
5. The “evaporator” is where the liquid-vapor mixture enters and additional heat is absorbed as it passes through the evaporator and eventually back into the compressor as a “saturated vapor with low pressure and low temperature.”
It is in the evaporator where circulating water from the cooling system re-enters to be further cooled down and sent back out to continue supplying the desired cool air.
The Pros and Cons of an Air-Cooled Chiller
1. PRO – Because there are no cooling tower or pumps needed, an air-cooled chiller takes up less space and can be placed outside.
2. PRO – It does not need water.
3. PRO – Easier to operate.
4. PRO – Less maintenance is required because they are built with fewer components.
5. PRO – With today’s designs, air-cooled chillers can return to full capacity quicker than a water-cooled system.
6. CON/PRO – Heat is a byproduct. When heat is not an issue, these units can be a cost-saving addition during winter months when heating can be expensive for a facility. (Special Note: Air-cooled chillers can be placed outside, and we can help determine where is the best place to house one of these chillers.)
7. CON – Energy consumption is higher making air-cooled chillers less efficient, but with advanced components and technology, more robust efficiency is being seen.
8. CON – More noise is produced via the condenser cooling fans.
9. CON – Lifespan may be shorter if placed outside.
The Team at J.C. Younger Can Build You the Most Dependable, Air-Cooled Chiller
With our history dating back to 1956, the JCY team manufactures and re-manufacturers high-quality component, air-cooled chillers. We have air-cooled chiller packages in stock, or we can customize a unit for your application.
If you’re not sure whether you should select an air-cooled chiller versus a water-cooled chiller, let us help guide you on that question. We also manufacture top-of-the-line, water-cooled chillers. We have years of experience, and we will direct you to the best chiller for your commercial or industrial needs.
J.C. Younger offers work that the entire team can be proud to say, “we built that.” It is always our mission to deliver quality chillers and great support so our customers can get their job done. Whatever your application requires, give us a call to get all your questions answered. We understand it’s a major operational expense, and we are confident you will be completely satisfied with a chiller from the team at J.C. Younger.