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HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

May 16, 2023

In this short podcast episode, Bryan talks about compression ratio and efficiency, particularly how floating or fixed suction and head pressure affect those things.

Compression ratio (absolute head pressure divided by absolute suction pressure) closely correlates to efficiency in all sorts of compression-refrigeration HVAC/R systems; the most efficient systems have high mass flow with less compressor work. High compression ratios indicate a greater differential between the head and suction pressures. A lower compression ratio is desirable, but the number has to be realistic; a compression ratio of 1 indicates that the system is off. Medium-temp refrigeration compression ratios are typically around 3:1, whereas low-temp refrigeration can have higher compression ratios (6:1).

In commercial refrigeration applications, we can help control the compression ratio with floating suction and head strategies. Floating the suction and head pressures allow the equipment to achieve lower compression ratios and higher equipment efficiency. Old strategies for controlling compression ratio would involve having a fixed evaporator temperature and suction pressure. In a parallel rack system, floating suction allows the suction pressure to float up when the case maintains temperature; this strategy helps close the gap between the absolute suction and absolute head pressures and reduces the compression ratio. 

Floating suction strategies allow the suction to "float" up by allowing the evaporator coil temperature to rise a little bit when the box temperature is under control. Floating head strategies, on the other hand, allow the head pressure to float down in low-ambient conditions. We can look at ambient temperature and discharge pressure to determine how much we can float down the head pressure. 


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