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Effect of Refrigerant Charge, Duct Leakage, and Evaporator Air Flow on the High Temerature Performance of Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps
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An experimental study was conducted to quantify the effect of several installation items on the high outdoor ambient temperature performance of air conditioners. These installation items were: improper amount of refrigerant charge, reduced evaporator airflow, and return air leakage from hot attic spaces. There were five sets of tests used for this research: two of them for the charging tests, two for the reduced evaporator airflow, and one for the return air leakage tests. For the charging tests, the indoor room conditions were 80'F (27.8'C) dry-bulb and 50% relative humidity. The outdoor conditions ranged from 95'F (350C) all the way up to 120'F (48.9'C). Charge levels ranged from 30% undercharged to 40% overcharged for the short-tube orifice unit. For the thermal expansion valve (TXV) unit, charge levels ranged from-36% charging to +27% charging. Performance was quantified with the following variables: total capacity, energy efficiency ratio (EER), and power. The performance of the orifice unit was more sensitive to charge than it was for the TXV unit. For the TXV unit on the -27% to +27% charging range, the capacity and EER changed little with charge. A TXV unit and a short-tube orifice unit were also tested for reduced evaporator airflow. As evaporator airflow decreased, the capacity and EER both decreased as expected. However, the drop was not as significant as with the charging tests. For the extreme case of 50% reduced evaporator airflow, neither unit's capacity or EER dropped more than 25%. Return air leakage from hot attic spaces was simulated by assuming adiabatic mixing of the indoor air at normal conditions with the attic air at high temperatures. Effective capacity and EER both decreased with increased return air leakage. However, power consumption was relatively constant for all variables except outdoor temperature, which meant that for the same power consumption, the unit delivered much lower performance when there was return air leakage. The increase in sensible heat ratio (SHR) with increasing leakage showed perhaps the most detrimental effect of return air leakage on performance, which was the inability of the unit to absorb moisture from the environment.
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Rodriguez, Angel Gerardo (1995). Effect of Refrigerant Charge, Duct Leakage, and Evaporator Air Flow on the High Temerature Performance of Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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