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Refrigeration & Air Conditioning 101

Refrigeration & Air Conditioning 101

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Refrigeration & Air Conditioning 101

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Nov 11, 2020


After over forty years of the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry, many changes have occurred. In order for one to keep up-to-date, most technical documents have not been seriously updated for current accuracy. This volume attempts to modernize some of the values that have undergone change over the years.

Nov 11, 2020

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Refrigeration & Air Conditioning 101 - Dennis P Ukele


History of Refrigeration

Refrigeration as we know it today came about with eons of time. Early man did not deal with the need for refrigeration; instead, they ate what they could find to survive. Whether it was—a seed, berry, root, or possibly flesh from an animal. Originally, all was gathered and eaten in the raw form. As time progressed, however, mankind found other techniques for storage and preparation. Fire was probably one of the many developments for food preparation and prolonging the food deterioration process. A cooked food source was found to be a method of preserving the product for a slightly longer time above and above that of just a fresh berry or a small animal flesh or the like.

As time progressed, there was a process developed, such as our pioneers moving across the plains. Salted meat, dry cure, kept the meat from spoilage, and when used, it was reconstituted with water to remove the excessive amount of salt used to preserve without any refrigeration means. The salted meat theory was extended into the introduction of sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites, which were used in the curing of products like bacon, corned beef, luncheon meats, and countless others. The curing process also enabled the product to be produced fully cooked at a much lower temperature, and also a huge benefit was it killed any chance of botulism, almost always a deadly disease.

The other method of preserving foods is the canning method, available using high temperatures, as in the use of a pressure cooker to raise the canned goods, whatever it may be, to a safe, sterilized temperature, sometimes 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The lid is sealed and allowed to cool and can be stored in a pantry or cool location until needed for use. Since the product is already cooked, just warming could allow it to be served. This method is now used in the canning industry, whether it is fish products, vegetable products, meat products, or other canned goods on your local grocer’s shelves.

The need for refrigeration was finally investigated by folks in the colder northern climates, and they developed cold storage using blocks of ice cut from lakes during the winter and made caverns and placed the ice in the cavern. Food products could be placed in the cold environment to preserve it for a longer time rather than rotting within days or having to cook immediately. It was also found that by cooking the product and using a portion, the remainder could be placed in the cavern to be preserved for a longer period.

With the expanding knowledge of electricity, the development of electric motors, the science of thermodynamics was able to theorize the refrigeration cycle. Thus, the first refrigeration compressors and absorbers were developed, which further developed to what it is today. The refrigeration world basically has two branches, air-conditioning and refrigeration. The air-conditioning segment deals with heating or cooling an occupied or unoccupied space normally for human comfort. This may also deal with air quality or air relative humidity. Refrigeration may deal with the same issues but is normally not dealing with human comfort, but instead temperature maintenance.

Basics of Thermodynamics

Refrigeration is structured around the transfer of heat and cold. Fluids, like gases and liquids and solids, all are able to give up heat and take on cold. Thermal conductivity of the substance defines how quickly this heat exchange takes place. Other terms, such as insulation value, act the same in the process as thermal conductivity. The higher the insulation value, the slower the heat transfer. This insulation value is normally equated in a letter and numerical configuration, such as R-11. The R is resistance to heat flow, and the 11 is the amount of insulation thickness for the insulation being used. The higher the R number, the more the resistance to heat flow.

In a building, there are many items to consider if a total heat load calculation is required to adequately size the appropriate piece of equipment to maintain the space design conditions. We know that buildings have walls, ceilings, and floors, but we have to go beyond to see what material is in all those surfaces, whether it be wood, concrete, drywall, or any combination of other available building products.

The thermal conductivity of each of the surfaces will be a sum of all the component parts. As an example, a wall has 16-inch centers between the studs, and the studs are 2×6 inches. The covering on the interior are 1/2-inch drywall boards, and fiberglass R-19 fills the void between the studs. The exterior surface has 5/8-inch plywood sheeting and covered with vinyl siding. We must calculate the total R value, including the 2×6-inch studs and spacing for the entire exposed surface area. This must be done for each of the exposed surfaces (floor, ceiling, walls).

External temperatures must be known during the varying seasonal changes that will be encountered. Attic temperatures, basement temperatures, outdoor temperatures, and of course, the desired inside temperatures, and possibly even as far as maintaining relative humidity during the changes in seasons. There is a slight dead-air space also calculated on the outdoor wall surface, and this decreases as velocity pressure of wind increases, but in any case, it is present.

Total heat load is a complex formula: Q=U × A × TD. U is the reciprocal of the R value, the A is the area of the surface, and TD is the temperature difference between the two surfaces. The Q values are then all added up, and at that point, the heat load of the building is known. But that is not the total figure yet. More concerns have to be dealt with and added into the final figure.

Exposed glass and angle of the sun figure as solar gain. Also, there is color of roof, and walls, of which the darker the color, the more heat gain from solar. Air leakage through windows and doors, unsealed receptacles, or light switches. Roof overhangs for shading. Trees and shrubs, which aid in the shading process, will affect the heat load calculation. Indoor factors could be number and watts of lighting and appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, dryers (vented or not), ceiling fans, and how many people there are per room. This part of the equation with people has two factors involved: latent heat and sensible heat, to be specific.

Sensible heat is heat that can be measured using a thermometer. Latent heat is not that easily measured and only can be determined by the use of a calorimeter. Heat load charts and data have been accumulated over the years, and the numbers are fairly standard when doing a calculation. Latent heat can be described as the heat or cool required to change a substance from one state, solid, liquid, or gas, to another state without changing temperature.

A simple way to explain this latent heat is with the illustration using the human body normal process of perspiration. When the body gets too hot, the pores open and allow moisture to the surface of the skin. This, in turn, is exposed to the atmosphere, and evaporation occurs. This evaporation cools the body. The process of the change of state from liquid to vapor absorbs Btu’s from the skin, and thus the cooling effect.

To further explain, water has definite Btu’s at all the solid, liquid, and vapor state changes. These numbers are generally accepted using standard atmosphere, sea level, and distilled water. A block of ice weighing 1 pound and at 32 degrees Fahrenheit will remain at 32 degrees Fahrenheit water, but it will take 144 Btu’s to change from solid to liquid. The liquid water from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 212 degrees Fahrenheit will take 1 Btu for the same pound. So now we have 144 + 180 to get us to 212 degrees Fahrenheit water.

The next state change is to steam. This one takes a lot more energy for the same one pound of water. This is the most important state change in the refrigeration cycle. This change of state requires 970 Btu’s, and this enormous amount of Btu’s is the reason the industry has used this latent heat absorption process for cooling rather than just melting ice or using products such as dry ice (solid carbon dioxide).

Once either ice or steam (water vapor), the Btu to change the 1-pound, 1-degree drops to nearly 1/2 Btu’s per degree increase or decrease. From the above, it can be seen that 1 pound of ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 1 pound of steam at 212 degrees Fahrenheit will take 1,294 Btu’s for the two state changes. This is extremely powerful when trying to heat or cool a space such as a building.

Processes other than human comfort are found in the industrial format, food processing, cold storage, or even grocery and supermarkets. The same latent heat philosophy exists in the application of cooling and heating in these applications. In the case of foods and plants, they all have different freezing points and require different temperatures to achieve preservation of the product.

Produce storage and refrigeration has an existing extra heat involved when calculating the heat load. Until the produce, whether a cabbage or parsley, they are still alive until cooked. That being said, they have a heat of respiration, which has to be added into the heat load calculation. All the beef, pork, lamb, fish, and others, if processed or dead, do not have extra heat to remove for storage. These products should be stored at least 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for longevity of shelf life in a refrigerated cooler. Products in a freezer should be at least 0 degree Fahrenheit, and ice cream should be -15 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit for storage.

There are a multitude of refrigerants available, and current EPA laws have directed most of the equipment manufacturers to a direction of rating refrigerants with a global warming potential. The refrigerant manufacturers are caught up in trying to produce refrigerants with same characteristics of the previous generations of gases. Some of the refrigerants now being acceptable are highly flammable, like R-600 (butane) and R-290 (propane). They are good refrigerants, but highly flammable. Another good refrigerant is R-717 (ammonia). It is caustic and has a high affinity for water. There is no doubt about the ammonia odor. It does, however, have a very high Btu per pound as compared to the commonly used refrigerants on the marketplace today.

R-717 cannot be inside a building, unless an industrial institution, so therefore a brine solution should be used in a secondary loop and circulated to the indoor space. To compare ammonia to one common refrigerant, which has been around for many years, R-22, which is being phased out of service, R-22 can remove about 60 Btu’s per pound, and R-717 can remove about 600 Btu’s at the same temperature. R-717 has a much lower high-side pressure, and therefore, the horsepower requirement is substantially lower, which results in a lower power bill.

The walk-in storage is popular and has been for many years. All the same heat load calculations must be finalized before any equipment can be selected. An additional 10 percent margin of error is always encouraged. Pull-down temperatures of arriving product and expected time to have the temperature achieved must also be in the total equation.

In short, you can see that the cooling or heating process involves the two heats: latent, which is the major component of the heat load process, and the sensible, which is important but not the large factor when a change of state is required, like in freezing product. The refrigerant uses the evaporation process to achieve the cold to change the state to a frozen-state solid.

Refrigeration Cycle

The refrigeration cycle, being a thermodynamic process, uses heat transfer of Btu’s and the change of state for the cooling or heating process. This chapter will only be dealing with the liquid and vapor or gaseous states and the process involved during the heat transfer process.

Refrigeration or heating will take place when there is the change of state from liquid to vapor or from vapor to liquid. The heat pump uses both of these methods, depending on the mode that the unit is in. The same process also occurs in a refrigeration system when it is required to remove ice from the evaporator coil in a hot-gas defrost application.

The compressor is the point in the system where all the main function of changing a low-pressure vapor to a high-pressure vapor occurs. The exit of the compressor forces the low-pressure vapor returning from the evaporator coil into a high-pressure, high-temperature vapor and exits to the condensing coil.

In the condensing coil, heat is removed from the refrigerant by either air or water (liquid), and the high-pressure vapor is changed back to a high-pressure liquid. The saturated, high-pressure liquid can be further cooled, which increases its capacity for cooling. This increase is measured by taking the equivalent-pressure corresponding temperature and comparing it to the actual temperature of the high-pressure liquid. The term derived for this increase in capacity is subcooling. The more the subcool, the more capacity can be achieved by the circulation of the refrigerant.

All the time of the subcooling, the refrigerant is becoming denser and taking up less space within the condenser coil. This will translate farther on its travel in the piping on the way to the metering device, which is the next step in the refrigeration cycle. The metering device restrains the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator coil, causing another pressure change and change of state.

Various metering devices will be covered at a later point in this text.

The metering device is holding the high-pressure, high-temperature liquid refrigerant back and thus creates a pressure drop as the liquid enters the evaporator coil. During this pressure drop to the low side or suction side of the system, the hot liquid uses some of the Btu capacity of the refrigerant to lower the entire amount of liquid to the low-pressure temperature equivalent. This process sometimes is called refrigerant boiling. It is actually a by-product of evaporation. A cooling result occurs, and the remainder of the liquid is now at the lower pressure and lower temperature.

As the refrigerant liquid/vapor mix continues through the evaporator, additional heat is extracted from the space, which is being cooled through the heat exchanger, fins, tubes, or other forms, and continues to change more of the low-pressure liquid into low-pressure vapor. This continues until all the liquid becomes vapor. We now have left the saturated liquid and vapor section in the evaporator.

Additional heat may be added to the vapor on its way to the compressor. This additional heat is referred to as superheat, which is heat added to refrigerant vapor above the saturation-equivalent temperature. Superheat is a very important characteristic during the refrigeration cycle. Liquids cannot be compressed, and therefore, liquids entering compressors can literally destroy the compressor, breaking rods (if reciprocating), splitting and breaking components within the compressor. A superheated suction vapor guarantees the compressor 100 percent vapor returning from the evaporator.

Once the vapor refrigerant has returned to the compressor, it is again compressed back into a high-pressure, high-temperature vapor and back to the condenser. This is an ever-ongoing process, as long as the compressor is operating. Other factors enter into efficiency of operation, and a major concern is the refrigeration oils used to lubricate all the rotating components and surfaces in the compressor. The oil is circulated with the refrigerant and must return to the place where it is needed the most, the compressor. Many studies have been done, and data has been recorded for proper oil return to the compressor. Oil will travel in the refrigerant, whether the refrigerant is vapor or liquid, but the oil must be miscible (i.e., can mix in solution with the refrigerant). Velocities in the vapor portion of the cycle are the largest of the concerns for oil return back to the compressor. Piping and proper velocities will be covered later, but this is extremely important.

The refrigeration cycle is a sealed system and must be free from contaminants, such as moisture, air, sludges, improper mixing of refrigerants. All contaminants will act adversely in the refrigeration cycle. Air will add to the high-side pressure and increase the horsepower requirement, thus increasing compressor amperage draw and the higher electric bill. In the air, there is probably moisture, water vapor, which adversely affects the refrigerant. With the increase high-side pressure comes higher temperatures, and the water vapor chemically reacts with the refrigerant and forms hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids. These acids eat away the motor-winding insulation, causing an electrical winding-to-winding or winding-to-ground short. This is a very costly event, because the compressor will be down, and the cooling process will no longer occur until repair or replacement. Sludges normally are caused from the above shorts developed. During the time of the chemical reaction, the compressor is still operating and can distribute the sludges throughout the system, dryers, metering devices, oil pump screens, and the like. Mixing of refrigerants will cause higher-than-normal high-side and low-side pressures. The metering device is designed for a specific pressure/temperature range. Mixing refrigerants will cause the system to act erratically. An unacceptable operation will result.

Further procedures that should be followed while installing and servicing will be covered later in this text.

Refrigeration Components

The refrigeration system has countless number of configurations and components available today. Years ago, there were very few component parts to choose from, but today there is a flood of devices and controls that attempt to fine-tune the refrigeration system. Building energy management, computerized equipment, tight monitoring of throttling ranges, timers, remote controlling, industrial, residential, governmental, business, and so many other applications.

We will study the basic components and make mention of some of the successful others that enhance operation of the system during the refrigeration cycle. We will start with the simple residential heating-cooling system, which will include the heat pump system.

The basic refrigeration cycle does concur in the residential heat pump. There is always going to be the change of state from liquid to vapor and vapor to liquid. The condenser can be air-cooled or liquid-cooled, where the high-pressure, high-temperature vapor will change state to the high-pressure liquid. The metering device can be of several styles. Fixed-orifice devices have been used in the past and currently. A capillary tube is a length of tubing with a fixed internal diameter, and the length will determine the pressure drop result from the high-pressure condenser. The longer the capillary tube, the more the pressure drop. An example of comparison can be explained by using a water hose as the capillary tube. If the water hose is five feet long and the water valve is turned on with a constant pressure, it will produce more water in a given period than a hose of greater length. If the water hose is one hundred feet long, with all the constant pressures at the valve, the water produced in the same amount of time will be substantially reduced.

Another fixed metering device is the piston type. This has a fixed-drilled orifice and seats, in the case of a heat pump, firmly against a mated surface, and the refrigerant is regulated through the orifice according to the pressure difference between the condenser and the evaporator. In the reverse mode, it bypasses the orifice, and full flow for the heat mode is not inhibited.

These pistons are normally found at both the evaporator and the condenser which allow the heat pump to operate in the heating or cooling modes.

The next metering device used in residential service is the expansion valve. This device attempts to maintain a constant superheat. The expansion valve has a few more considerations above and beyond the capillary tube or piston. It can be made from various materials, normally brass, and sometimes is adjustable versus nonadjustable. The connection fitting can be brazed, flared, or even specialized Chatleff-type connectors or the equivalent. In any case, the expansion valve has various terms by the manufactures describing them. Thermal or thermo are used, but they all operate the same. The valve will have three different pressures that open or close the valve. The relationship of these pressures is important to be able to understand the operation. The closing forces of the valve are the suction vapor pressure and the spring pressure. The suction pressure in a residential heat pump normally has more that 2-pound pressure drop in the evaporator coil from beginning to end. If there is a distributor with more than one circuit going to the evaporator coil, then there is more than 2-pound pressure drop. This situation would require and expansion valve to have an external equalizer connection. This connection will terminate near the exit of the evaporator coil.

The opening force of the valve is the power head element. This is a fat disc-shaped piece attached to the expansion valve and has a capillary tube connected to it, and at the tube exit, there is normally a cylindrical bulb of various lengths, accordingly to the manufacturer. This bulb is securely fastened to the exiting suction vapor line and sometimes is insulated. This bulb counteracts the closing pressures in attempt to maintain a given superheat. The manufacturer of the equipment dictates what superheat they prefer, and in these cases, the expansion valve is a nonadjustable type.

If there is an adjustable type and there is a question of operation, a simple test can be performed. Observing the suction vapor pressure, hold the bulb and see if the pressure increases. If it does not, the power element has probably developed a leak and no longer can maintain the 10 superheat which is required. If the pressure increases during the same test, then there is a lack of adequate charge of refrigerant, or combinations of restriction of liquid to the expansion valve.

On most residential heat pumps manufactured today, they use a bypass expansion valve. This valve eliminates the need for a bypass check valve during the change of mode from heat to cool or the defrost portion of the heat pump. It acts like a piston in the bypass mode, allowing full liquid flow in the opposite direction.

Other components in a residential system will include several electronic and electrical components. Fan motors, relays, contactors, reversing valves, control boards, capacitors, heater elements, crankcase heaters, fuses and circuit breakers, liquid line or biflow dryers, heat sequencers, and many thermal protection devices. To be able to understand the overall operation, a sequence of operation is crucial to understanding the particular system being serviced.

Commercial, industrial, governmental, and others use the same basic principles of thermodynamics and the refrigeration cycle. The main difference between these and the residential is size in Btu’s. Residential equipment normally is made using single phase as a power source, normally 208–230 VAC or lower. Larger equipment may use more specialized devices above and beyond the compressor and expansion valve.

Specialized devices on larger equipment can range depending on what part of the system is to be controlled or regulated. In the case of oil control, oil separators are used to separate the oil mist from the high-pressure refrigerant vapor. The oil mist falls to the bottom because of the much lower vapor velocity, which, because of the larger diameter of the cylinder versus tubing, enables the oil to be captured before continuing to the condenser coil. The liquid oil is controlled from re-entry to the compressor using a ball float valve. When the oil level increases, the ball float valve opens and allows the oil to proceed to an oil reservoir. Once it is in the reservoir, it is held there until an oil level controller on the compressor opens and allows oil to refill the oil sump in the crankcase.

In the case of the oil level dropping or the oil not being able to lubricate the bearing surfaces or friction areas of the compressor, oil safety switches are available and shut off the equipment until the lubrication failure can be corrected.

Safety switches such as high pressure, low pressure, phase monitors, thermostats, overloads, and circuit breakers and fuses, among others, are used to protect the motor of the compressor. Cycling switches may look the same as the safety switches, but they cycle the motor using the parameters of the refrigerant or temperatures for the design of the system. Cycling switches can be of low pressure, temperature of the conditioned space, fan cycling controls by use of temperature or pressure, water flow switches, pressure differential switches, and so on.

Larger equipment may very well have a power source with three lines of power. This power supply is called three-phase and is available in many different potential differences. The most common are 208, 230/240, 480, and 575 VAC. Others are available, but these are the most common. This equipment normally does not require starting devices like capacitors, potential relays, or current relays. They are natural starting motors where the three phases of line power are 120 degrees out of phase with one another. We will deal in more detail later.

The refrigerant circulation in a larger system may have a liquid receiver, which stores excess liquid refrigeration if the system is under a light load situation. If the expansion valve senses a need for more refrigerant liquid, it opens up and the receiver is able to respond by allowing the liquid line to remain a solid column of liquid. On the liquid line, there may be a sight glass installed, which has a twofold purpose. It doubles as a moisture indicator and also can detect any shortfall of liquid refrigerant present during the operational cycle.

If there is more than one refrigeration circuit on the system, there may be multiple liquid line solenoid valves distributing refrigerant to the various evaporator expansion valves. These valves may be controlled by space thermostats or even by pressure control. Most of the multizone systems have other devices that can be installed, such as evaporator pressure regulators, which will not allow the pressure drop in the evaporator, causing a possible freezing condition, or if there are more than one freezing or cooling temperatures to be maintained.

Suction accumulators exist and are installed just before the return to the compressor. This device helps protect the compressor from a 0 degree Fahrenheit superheat liquid return. The accumulator has an oil return feature by using an inverted 180-degree elbow and a small hole at the base, allowing oil to enter the tube, which directly enters the compressor suction. These devices are normally insulated to prevent condensation frost formation or even rust formation.

Hot gas bypass valves are used in a condition where the suction vapor pressure may drop below a 32 degrees Fahrenheit and would result in the frosting or freezing of an evaporator coil. This valve can be adjustable or controlled by a pressure switch in combination with a hot gas solenoid valve. The basic theory is to keep the evaporator pressure just above the freezing point of the fluid (a vapor or liquid) passing over the evaporator coil.

A crankcase pressure-regulating valve is normally installed at the compressor and is manually adjustable. It is installed in the suction vapor line, and its primary function is to keep a compressor from cycling off on overamperage, normally brought on about because of a high-suction pressure. This may be because of excessive load upon start of the compressor due to high load conditions caused from excessive expansion valve feed. These situations could occur on a new installation start-up or just after a defrost cycle. The valve can be adjusted during operation, and it is very suspected to act erratically if moisture is present in the system, which it can freeze open or closed, depending on its current position.

Head pressure control can be accomplished with head pressure water flow valves, or a combination of two or more valves, to maintain head pressure during cold ambient conditions when dealing with air-cooled equipment.

Motors drive the refrigeration system. Compressor, fans, or pumps are the heart of the operation of the refrigeration system. The motor may be as small as a 100-horsepower motor and ranging to the thousands of horsepower. The application will dictate what motor is required to perform the act of refrigeration, moving enough fluid to the final destination to create the required refrigeration expectancies.

Check valves are used to allow flow in one direction only. They can be found in defrost systems, heat pump units, and also prevent a hot-gas line to condense liquid during the cooling mode in a three-pipe defrost system. The larger heat pumps will have the check valve piped in parallel around the expansion valve. At this time, the internal bypass heat pump expansion valve is not available above 5 tons (60,000 Btu’s).

Electronic and electromechanical safety and cycling controls are available in many different configurations and have various ranges and differentials available and can accommodate many different refrigerants. R-717, ammonia, must have steel, stainless steel, or aluminum connections for pressure transmission. Copper and its alloys are readily deteriorated by ammonia. Some of these controls have timing devices built in so as not to cause a nuisance trip of the controlling voltage. These timing devices can be from normally 45 seconds to 90 seconds before the switch opens.

Heat exchangers exist to add additional superheat to the suction gas in exchange with the additional subcooling of the liquid refrigerant. The net results is an increase in the net refrigeration effect, thus higher efficiency. The only problem is, if the suction vapor returns too warm through the heat exchanger, a higher discharge temperature will result. These devices must be appropriately chosen and normally used when a low superheat at the exit of the evaporator exists. Normally, in the 2–5 degrees Fahrenheit, superheat is ideal for this application, and the exchanger is normally mounted close to the exit of the evaporator.

Evaporator pressure regulators (EPR) are a device placed at the exit of the evaporator and open on inlet pressure rise. Unlike the crankcase pressure regulator. This valve is also an adjustable-type valve and can be set so the evaporator cannot drop below a given set temperature.

These valves are normally found in supermarket display cases or walk-in coolers, where freezing of the product is a concern, such as produce, dairy, and meat cases and coolers need to be maintained above a certain temperature.

Pressure-reducing, normally open solenoid valves are specifically designed for a parallel-rack, supermarket-type application. The piping arrangement that connects the liquid line, liquid receiver, liquid manifold, and the hot gas manifold are connected in such a way that when a defrost is initiated, the normally open solenoid valve closes. At the same time, the defrost valve switches position, allowing either hot gas or high-pressure saturated gas from the liquid receiver to travel up the suction line into the coil in the case, cooler, or freezer, and then is bypassed around the expansion valve. It continues backward in the liquid line to the liquid line header, where it meets up with the pressure-reduced liquid and then is circulated to other evaporators connected to the system. After the defrost is terminated, either by time or temperature, the solenoid valve is deactivated, and the entire system is restored to normal operation.

Pressure relief valves are used in a sealed system to minimize an overpressure situation. These valves can be either fusible or spring-loaded. Both are nonadjustable and are either set for pressure or temperature. The fusible pressure relief normally has a solder-like material in a drilled hole, and it has a specific temperature that it will melt and allow all the liquid receiver to empty all refrigerant. The spring-loaded is normally a multipiece device that has a preset pressure that the seal spring will be overcome by receiver pressure, thus opening and discharging excess pressure. Some are designed not to reset and close, while others will reset itself upon a preset drop in pressure. Both have tamperproof seals that will give signs of attempting to modify the temperature or pressure range. In large ammonia systems, a liquid receiver may have two relief valves isolated from each other, so that when the relief valve expiration date comes due, the other relief valve can be introduced to the receiver pressure.

Defrost valves are used in the system to close the suction return gas and disallow it to the suction header. As this happens, the hot gas manifold connection opens and reverses the flow of refrigerant in the circuit and returns all liquid to the liquid header. With this, the high-pressure vapor in the evaporator will clear the frost accumulation from the evaporator coil. Once the defrost is complete, the hot gas valve resumes its normal state, allowing the suction vapor from the evaporator to proceed

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