Aug 25, 2020
In this short podcast episode, Bryan discusses the importance of suction line temperature and what it can tell you about an HVAC system.
There are two main places to take your suction temperature: at the evaporator outlet and right where the suction line goes into the condensing unit. When the former number is high, you could have a starved/underfed evaporator. When the latter number is high, you may have poor suction line insulation. If the refrigerant is too hot when it goes into the compressor, you can overheat the compressor over time.
Under normal operating conditions, you will see about a 10-degree swing. At a 75-degree indoor temperature, the evaporator temperature will probably have around a 35-degree TD. So, you run around a 40-degree evaporator coil under 75-degree indoor conditions. (That is true of all refrigerants.) If the refrigerant picks up 10 degrees of superheat in the evaporator, you'll have about a 50-degree suction line at the evaporator coil outlet (+/- 5 degrees or so). Then, when you measure the suction line before the compressor, the temperature can increase about 3-5 degrees more. Overall, you'll want your temperature to be below 65 degrees at the compressor inlet.
If you see a lower temperature, then you'll want to start looking at airflow. If you see a warmer suction line temperature, you'll want to make sure the suction line is insulated, that there are no restrictions, and that the system is not undercharged with refrigerant. We are fans of non-invasive testing; that way, you can measure the temperatures without hooking up gauges and getting the pressures. Measuring pressures is not always necessary, but we highly recommend checking the suction line temperature whenever possible to benchmark the system.
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