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HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

Aug 28, 2017

Dick Wirz, author of Commercial Refrigeration for Air Conditioning Technicians, talks about making the switch from A/C to refrigeration.

Dick Wirz is an advocate for using rules of thumb, which is a controversial position. However, rules of thumb are an excellent way for A/C techs to dip their toes into the refrigeration world. Rules of thumb are less likely to overwhelm technicians than the exact technicalities of certain readings and measurements.

Some prime examples of using rules of thumb in air conditioning are condenser split, evaporator split/TD, subcooling, and superheat. Those all have relatively neat "rules of thumb" that don't vary too much. (30-degree condenser split, 35-degree evaporator TD, 10-degree subcooling, and 10-degree superheat.) On medium-temperature refrigerators, a common rule of thumb is a 10-degree TD for a 35-degree box with an evaporator running at 25 degrees (35 - 10 = 25). On low-temperature applications, the box temperature is -10 degrees. You still have the 10-degree TD, so the design conditions for the evaporator would be -20 degrees (-10 - 10 = -20). The pressures will vary across refrigerants, but the temperatures WILL REMAIN the same as the rule of thumb.

Ice is an alarming sight for residential technicians. However, commercial refrigeration technicians will occasionally see frost or ice under perfectly normal circumstances. Frost merely indicates that the temperature of a pipe is below freezing. Ice alone does NOT indicate floodback. In commercial refrigeration, the fans run all of the time to defrost the system (even during the off cycle). However, in freezers (low-temperature refrigerators), hot gas or electric defrost is required.

Dick also talks about:

  • Subcooling vs superheat in diagnosis
  • R-410a pressure confusion
  • Reach-in and walk-in refrigerators
  • Medium and low-temperature refrigerators
  • Defrost controls
  • Common issues in commercial refrigeration


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