Thermal Expansion Valve: Achieving Top Air Conditioner Efficiency
Air conditioning accounts for up to half of your home’s energy consumption during the hot, humid summer months on the East Coast. If you’re shopping for a new air conditioner, several advanced features should top the list of the most important technology to look for in a new A/C. These include:
- High SEER rating
- Variable-speed air handler
- Fan-only switch
- Automatic-delay fan switch
- Filter-check light
- Thermal expansion valve
The final item on this list, the thermal expansion valve, is especially important for achieving top efficiency no matter what the weather is like outside. What does a thermal expansion valve do? The valve widens and narrows based on cooling needs sensed by the temperature of gaseous refrigerant in the evaporator coil’s outlet. When the temperature increases, so does the load on the coil. The thermal expansion valve responds by letting more refrigerant enter the system. The opposite occurs when the temperature drops.
Benefits of a thermal expansion valve
- Cooling the way you need it: Peak performance and comfort is achieved when the A/C’s cooling capacity matches the cooling load. This load changes constantly based on outdoor temperature changes and interior heat gain. A thermal expansion valve helps the system respond to these changes to maintain unfailing indoor comfort at all times.
- Energy savings: Tests indicate that thermal expansion valves maintain better efficiency than systems with a fixed orifice or capillary tube. This is the case even if the air conditioner is improperly charged with refrigerant. Since approximately 75 percent of new installations are charged incorrectly, this is an important consideration.
- Protection for the compressor: By increasing and decreasing refrigerant flow based on changing conditions, the thermal expansion valve prevents too much refrigerant from entering the evaporator coil when cooling loads are low. This keeps liquid refrigerant from reaching and damaging the compressor, thus helping your investment last longer.
For more tips on selecting a new air conditioner based on advanced features, please contact Sobieski Services, Inc. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
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