Refrigerant Gas And Its Use

Refrigerant gas
30 lb portable refrigerant cylinder
Refrigerant gas is the substance that transfers heat in a refrigeration system. It does that as it flows in the system in a process called refrigeration cycle.
The refrigeration system is a closed tube system comprising the compressor pump, condenser and evaporator tube.
At the evaporator, the refrigerant absorbs heat that’s around the evaporator tube for it to boil. The refrigerant then rejects the heat at the condenser tube. So it’s a continuous transfer of heat from the evaporator to the condenser. However, the process is a reverse in a heat pump.
The evaporator is inside the conditioned room (for a mini split system). But the condenser is outside the conditioned room.
The refrigeration industry attribute invention and development of refrigeration systems to different pioneers. But one remarkable recorded invention is the Carrier air conditioner brand. Willis Haviland Carrier invented Carrier AC in 1902.
Since the invention of the refrigeration system, the refrigeration industry has used organic and inorganic refrigerants. R12 and R22 were once famous CFC and HCFC refrigerants. We used CFC R12 refrigerant in refrigerators and car air conditioners. But the industry terminated the use of R12. R22 which we charge into house air conditioners is on phasedown. The reason for R12 and R22 phaseout is that both have high Ozone depleting potential.
Countries have different phaseout implementation timeline. In the US, R22 phaseout will be complete in 2020 and in Australia, 2029. Other developing countries could take longer.
When industry players marked CFC and HCFC refrigerants for eradication, R134a replaced R12. R404a, R410a, and R407c are alternatives for R22.

HFC Refrigerant Gas phaseout

But again, the refrigeration industry is in another shakeup. Research reveals that R134a and current R22 alternatives have High Global Warming Potential. The industry is again phasing out HFCs. We see organic refrigerants and other environment-friendly refrigerants as the replacement. 
Stakeholders justify the regular changes in refrigerant gas because production and consumption are in millions of metric tons. If there is no check on environmental impact GWP, refrigerants can cause havoc.


Air Conditioner Filter Cleaning

air conditioner filter cleaning
Air conditioner filter and air handler

Air conditioner Filter cleaning rids dust off your AC sieve.

The air filter’s work is to clean the indoor air that you breathe. It does that by straining particulates found in the conditioned room’s air.

An air conditioner installed with a technical precision should serve you for years before any major breakdown. You only need to do minor routine maintenance that your AC manufacturer recommends. One of these regular maintenances is air conditioner filter cleaning, or changing the air filter in the case of a disposable filter.

If you don’t clean or change the air filter at the right time, your AC’s cooling efficiency will downgrade.

Suppose your AC has been performing well. Suddenly, you notice a glitch like “no cooling from your indoor unit. Or, the cooling becomes inefficient.” Such anomaly could be an underlying filter related-fault. Using your AC for long without giving it necessary maintenance can cause such a fault.

If you’re the AC owner and you have HVAC expertise, it’s easy to diagnose and work on your AC. But if you don’t have the skill, little ambition is enough for you to handle some DIY fixes.

However, if you are less interested in the hands-on aspect of service and maintenance, read on to learn a thing or two about your air conditioner filter cleaning. It’s resourceful to have a rough idea of the work an AC technician would do on your machine.

So let’s look into the faults that can require air conditioner filter cleaning, to solve.

Lack of air conditioner filter cleaning can result in inefficient or no cooling.

The cooling effect of an AC happens at the air conditioner evaporator tube. The evaporator tube is also called indoor heat exchanger. It is bundled in one unit called Indoor Unit (shown below).
AC indoor unit
An indoor unit that holds the air filter
The indoor unit of a ductless split AC is installed in the conditioned room. But a Central Air Conditioner’s evaporator is in the Air Handling Unit that sits outside the conditioned room. Many Central AC designs place the AHU in the basement or attic. In houses without a basement or spacious attic, it sits in a convenient spot outside the conditioned rooms.
In a ducted system, the evaporator fan draws air from the conditioned room via the return side of the duct. AC air filter cleans the air before it reaches the evaporator coil surface. The evaporator fan pushes clean low-temperature air through the duct. Nothing but clean air should flow across the evaporator fins.
After your AC has run for one to three months, dirt and dust accumulate on the filter. This dust clogs the filter. The clogging can happen sooner or later than three months, though. It depends on how clean your environment is. Smoggy and dusty environment means the filter gets dirty sooner.
Then the time for filter cleaning or changing comes. To understand how important this maintenance measure is, compare it with changing your car’s air filter. What do you think would transpire if you don’t change your car’s air filter according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation? Your engine will choke.
Likewise, if you don’t clean or change the AC filter, air circulation will be impaired. And although you’ll be running your AC for longer hours, you’ll still experience reduced cooling. A clogged filter can also lead to icing of evaporator tubing.
So if you experience reduced cooling, first check the AC air filter.

Air Filter

The air filter is an element of AC that eliminates foreign particles from the air you breath. It has tiny pores that allow air molecules through but blocks dust and dirt from reaching the evaporator tube surface.

In a ductless split-phase air conditioner, the air filter is in the indoor unit. But in a duct system AC, it’s within the Air Handling Unit assembly.

The two types of filters are reusable and disposable filters. When you service your AC, you clean and use again reusable filters, but throw away disposable filters.

The degree of filtration defines the quality of a filter, and the quality of a filter defines its price. A medical filter used by individuals with allergies costs higher than a normal filter.

Dust and dirt sieved by the filter form a layer on the filter after weeks of operation. This dust blocks filter pores and hinder free air flow. The resultant effect of this phenomenon is impaired airflow across the filter and evaporator coil. Eventually, there’ll be no sufficient cool air coming from the indoor unit; not until you clean the filter.

Let me explain the simple air conditioner filter cleaning procedure using the photo below:

AC Air filter
Indoor unit with washable air filter

Before cleaning the filter, switch off the AC at the wall switch or use interface remote control.

  1. Pry the front evaporator cover open. A split indoor unit has a pair of reusable filters. In my example photo above, it’s a washable fine plastic gauze.

  2. Pull the filters out. If the AC has operated for one to three months without cleaning the filter, it’s now full of dust and dirt.

  3. Use a hand blower (if available) to blow off the dust from the filter, then scrub it with a soft brush in soapy water. Put it out in the sun to dry before you insert it back into the indoor unit.

  4. As the filter dries out, you’d want to find out if the indoor unit has gathered dust hidden in inaccessible joints – in most cases, there is concealed dust and dirt.
    Use a portable vacuum cleaner (with nozzle) to suck up the hidden dust.

Ductless split AC filter
Air filter of a ductless AC
Duct AC air filter
Air filter of an AC with a duct system


The two procedures for cleaning or replacing ductless or ducted AC systems don’t differ much. A duct system has its filter secured in place with screws at the AHU. Locate the screws, unscrew, and remove the filter. Clean and put back, or replace if it’s a disposable filter.

If you ignore air conditioner filter cleaning, it compounds filter-related problems. Your AC electricity consumption will rise. That’s not good news because your cooling system already accounts for nearly 50% of your home power consumption when it’s functioning normally.



Top-freezer Refrigerator Appliance

Top-Freezer Refrigerator
Top freezer refrigerator appliance

Top-Freezer refrigerator is a two-temperature fridge. Its freezer compartment is on its upper side and chiller on the lower compartment. The freezer compartment is smaller if you compare it with the chiller compartment.

A basic top-freezer refrigerator has fewer electrical and mechanical components.
Compressor motor of the fridge is the main component that consumes significant electricity. It is the pot-shaped component at the lower back of your refrigerator. It produces a humming sound when you plug your refrigerator into electricity. And if your refrigerator model has no lid that covers the space that houses the compressor, you can see it.

Direct cool or frost-free top freezer fridge

A top freezer refrigerator is a direct cool or a frost-free system.

Direct cool is the traditional technology for constructing a refrigerator system. Evaporator tube runs behind the inner refrigerator surface.
Ice build up in the freezer compartment when it has run for days.
Sometimes you may have to switch off your fridge and leave the freezer door open to defrost it. Stuff get stuck in ice and become hard to remove until you defrost the freezer.
Frost-free technology is the alternative for direct cool technology.

Frost-free technology introduces extra gadgets to the conventional system. Gadgets like evaporator fan, thermal switch, defrost heater and timer switch. All the gadgets, apart from the timer, connect to the evaporator. They work in harmony to defrost the refrigerator evaporator automatically. That’s why items you keep in the non-frost refrigerator freezer don’t get covered with ice.

Two compressor system

Some manufacturers install two compressors on a top-freezer refrigerator. Each compressor connects to one compartment.
Suppose one compressor dies. One compartment will fail. The second compressor and compartment will continue to operate.

A two-compressor system means that two compressors on your refrigerator consume electricity. You pay more in electricity bill. So, avoid this system if electricity cost is a concern to you.

Top-freezer refrigerator structure and size

Manufacturers produce different sizes of top-freezer refrigerators. A standard size freezer compartment in a two-temperature fridge is 1/3rd of the whole refrigerator storage space. A seven cubic feet refrigerator would store enough foodstuff for a nuclear family.

You can rearrange trays in the chiller compartment to accommodate drink bottles and pizza plates.
Top-freezer refrigerators ship with plastic containers for keeping fresh vegetables and fruits.

Some top freezer refrigerators have external condensers while others have internal. A condenser is the heat exchanger where warm refrigerant dumps heat in the refrigeration cycle.

An external condenser is on the back of your refrigerator or underneath. And if you touch it while your refrigerator is running, it feels warm. An internal condenser tube runs behind the refrigerator outer surface. If you touch your refrigerator’s outer surfaces while it is running, it feels warm.
Allow three inches between the refrigerator’s warm surfaces and the wall next to the spot you place it.  This prevents overheating.

If your refrigerator has an external condenser, always keep it clean and free from dust. Space between the condenser and the wall should be enough to allow enough air circulation to cool it.

Your refrigerator compressor also gets warm when the fridge is operating. This is another reason to place your refrigerator in a place with good ventilation.

The thermostat in your fridge cuts and connects electricity to the compressor. It does this intermittently when the refrigerator has attained set optimum temperature. This enables the fridge to maintain its set temperature and economize electricity.


Refrigerator/fridge Cooling Appliance

Fridge appliance

Refrigerator is the appliance for chilling or freezing stuff. It is a box with insulation and assembly of electrical and mechanical components. Its working principle is Refrigeration Cycle.

The body structure.

A refrigerator body has two layers, inner and outer layer. Between the two surfaces, there is an insulation foam or fiberglass. The insulation prevents the low temperature in the fridge from escaping out.

Manufacturers make refrigerators for different temperature applications. There are one-temperature fridges and two-temperature fridges. A chest freezer is an example of a one-temperature fridge. An upright double door fridge/freezer is an example of a two-temperature refrigerator.

Synonym of a chest fridge that cools stuff up to temperatures below freezing point is freezer. A fridge that doesn’t go below freezing point is called a chiller or cooler. And a refrigerator that combines a freezer and a cooler functionality in one unit is a fridge/freezer.

Fridge/freezers have more than one door, which gives them the name two-door or double door fridge.

When shopping for a refrigerator, there are factors you should consider:

  • Fridge’s cooling scope
  • Size of fridge
  • Electricity consumption

Fridge’s cooling scope

The degree of temperature you want from a cooling appliance is dominant when shopping for a fridge. Do you want a freezer, cooler, or both? If you want a freezer only, you can go for a stand-alone freezer. If you want a cooler only, you can go for a stand-alone cooler. But if you want one refrigerator with two temperature compartments, you go for a two-temperature fridge.

Two-door refrigerators are either upright or chest. Upright refrigerators have one compartment built on top of the other, or side by side.

Refrigerator size

Storage space of a refrigerator determines the quantity of stuff you stock in your fridge. A big family would go for a large size, and a small family will consider a small size. This applies to both one-temperature and two-temperature fridges.

Refrigeration industry’s Unit of measuring refrigerator storage space is cubic foot (cf). One cubic foot is a space that contains 28.4 liters of liquid. That is the size of a standard cooler box.

In a two temperature refrigerator, the industry allocates 1/3rd of the total storage space to the freezer compartment. The remaining space is a cooler. Either of the two compartments is on the upper or lower side. And a door covers each compartment.

If the freezer is on the upper compartment, it is a top freezer refrigerator. But if it is on the lower, it is a bottom freezer. However, in a side-by-side refrigerator, the two compartments align side by side.

So if you settle for a five cubic feet refrigerator, the freezer compartment would be 1/3rd of it. That’s 1.5 cubic feet. The cooler compartment would be the remaining 3.5 cubic feet.

Electricity consumption

The compressor is the main component in your fridge that draws significant electricity. It is the motor pump that pushes refrigerant round in the tube system. When you plug in your fridge, you can hear its humming sound.

In an absorption system fridge where there is no compressor, a heater is the equivalent of a compressor. It is the main component that consumes power.

Knowing the amount of electricity your refrigerator draws helps you estimate how much you should pay for electricity bill. So, look for the Energy Star sticker on your refrigerator to be sure that its power consumption is within the industry’s recommended range.

The government endorses electronic consumer goods that meet set standards by awarding them Energy Star label.

You can calculate how much electricity your refrigerator consumes using these simple steps:

Suppose Electricity Company charges you 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (1000 Watts per hour).

Your refrigerator rating is 200 Watts, meaning this is the amount of electricity it runs on in one hour.

How much then does it cost you to run it for a month, 24 hours a day?

200 watts x 24 hours x 31 days = 148800 Total Watt-hours.

148800 Watt-hours divided by 1000 Watt-hours = 150 kilowatt-hours.

150 kWh x 15 cents per kWh = $23 per month.

Note that $23 is a monthly approximation if the refrigerator compressor runs non-stop for a month. But if the thermostat is functional, the figure would be less. A thermostat cuts off power when a set temperature is attained and automatically switches on power when the temperature rises.

Within 24 hours, the sum total of minutes your fridge stays off when the thermostat cuts electricity off is more than a quarter of the total time it would run without a thermostat. Thermostatic on-off switch conserves electricity.

A different compressor technology that uses inverter economize electricity better. The amount of power the compressor draws from the wall socket reduces as the refrigerator gets colder inside.


Air Conditioner Machine. What Is It?

Air Conditioner machine Indoor Heat Exchanger
Split-type air conditioner machine’s indoor unit

An Air Conditioner machine is the equipment for lowering room temperature at home, in the office, or in a car. It works on the same principle as the refrigeration cycle.

An air conditioner machine’s other short names are AC, A/C or ac.

The Air Conditioner inventor’s original idea was to lower the temperature of a given indoor area. But over time, design-works incorporated a mechanism that does the reverse of cooling. So when you press a button, an AC can also heat the room.

A technology called heat pump is an example of a reverse refrigeration cycle. You activate a special valve from your AC control panel, and the AC absorbs heat from the outside environment and transfers it into the room.

Another form of heating in air conditioning is an electric heater. It’s an element inside the AC that generates heat and then a fan blows the heat into the conditioned room.

In cold weather, when the heat pump or heater is not able to provide enough heating, a furnace is the alternative.

A furnace is a dedicated machine for generating heat by burning fuel or boiling water. It’s either a stand-alone installation or it is part of the main AC unit. If it is an embedded furnace in the AC infrastructure, the AC’s air handler fan pushes the heat it generates into the room via the same AC duct line.

Since Willis H. Carrier invented the AC in 1902, expert designers have expanded on his work. They’ve redesigned air conditioners to suit different House Air Conditioning and Vehicle Air Conditioning applications.

Air Conditioning Industry classifies house air conditioners into Central air conditioners, Packaged air conditioners, Split type air conditioners, and Window type air conditioners. Particular application informs what designers come up with. That means a mini-split AC would be a practical installation for a 150 square feet room instead of a central air conditioner with a duct line.

Automobile air conditioning application work in small cars, commercial trucks, and refrigerated containers.

The refrigeration industry measures an air conditioner’s size, or capacity to cool in Ton, or British Thermal Unit (BTU).

In the early years of refrigeration before the invention of household refrigerators, vendors had centrally located ice stores in towns. Here, residents bought ice to use at home. The vendors measured cooling capacity by how much cooling a ton of ice did.

Refrigeration industry later borrowed the term “ton.” And the British standardized “one ton” to 12,000 British Thermal Unit (BTU).

You can see your AC’s capacity displayed in ton or BTU on the condensing unit or evaporator unit.

With the current global climate change, temperatures overwhelm. Heat in hot seasons is getting intense, and winters cause discomfort. The extreme temperatures are fast making an air conditioner a necessity. If you don’t own a home or office AC yet, chances are you would soon.

That’s why you need to have basic information about air conditioners; what you should know before you buy your home or office AC. This can enable you to make an informed decision before you buy.

But if you already have an air conditioner at home or in the office, you can learn the basic maintenance tips. Some simple do it yourself (DIY) can help you evade avoidable service disruption. You can also save on tangible bucks payable to a call technician and empower yourself to defeat repair scams.

An air conditioner machine is like any other mechanical equipment that needs simple regular maintenance to prolong its life and avoid a major breakdown. You need to know which parts need regular dusting, tightening of loose nuts, and general cleaning. Such maintenance is also good for car air conditioners so as to avoid inefficiency and respiratory side effects.