Condenser Coils vs Evaporator Coils: HVAC Understood

Your HVAC system is vital to maintaining the comfort of your home, and understanding how your HVAC system functions is critical to maximizing efficiency. While there are many things to know when it comes to your HVAC system, understanding condensers vs evaporators is crucial. Below is a simple guide to understanding a condenser coil vs evaporator coil, how they function, why they are vital, and how to maintain them.

If you need a new evaporator or condenser unit or are looking to replace all or part of your HVAC system, Superior Home Supplies has what you need. Contact us today to find the right HVAC solution for your home.

The difference between condensers and evaporators in HVAC

When considering condensers vs evaporators, it is essential to understand their primary difference and how these differences affect the function of your HVAC system. An evaporator helps provide cooling by removing the heat from a space through evaporation. Its function is to transfer the heat into the refrigerant inside the evaporator. . Unlike the condenser, it has no moving parts.

The condenser will reverse this process, pushing the heat energy out of the refrigerant gas and into the environment around it, condensing the refrigerant back into a liquid.. This component will change the refrigerant gas from liquid to vapor and cool it down.

What are the mechanical components of condensers and evaporators?

In comparing condensers vs evaporators, another main difference is the type of components in each system. The condenser contains more parts. The condenser fan will pull air into the condenser coils to help cool down the refrigerant and expel the heat from the system, which is why you often feel warm air coming from it. A capacitor helps to boost the electricity to deliver power to the condenser, and the contactor acts as a power bridge. The motor helps power the fan in the system, and the coil absorbs heat and changes the state of the refrigerant.

When comparing a condenser coil vs evaporator coil, both help to remove heat, but the condenser coil is fed air drawn in from the outside while the evaporator pulls it out before delivering it into the space. Both can seriously affect your system's efficiency, especially if you experience your evaporator coil freezing up.

Your system's evaporator is considered the cold side and will have the evaporator coil and an expansion valve connecting to the air handler.

How evaporator and condenser coils work

When comparing condenser coil and an evaporator coil it is essential to know how each one works to help cool down the air in your home. The evaporator coil’s primary function is to convert the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas. The refrigerant is delivered to the evaporator coils after it passes through the expansion valve, which decreases its pressure. This helps convert the refrigerant to a gas so that the heat transfer process can occur in the evaporator coil before the refrigerant is passed to the outdoor unit.

The condenser coil will hold the refrigerant when it is in a liquid form after the compressor condenses it into a liquid state. At this point, the refrigerant will release its heat before being passed to the outdoor air.

What is a condenser coil?

Essentially, a condenser coil is a heat exchanger used to transfer heat in air conditioning units. They work with the refrigerant to draw hot air outside to help keep the interior home temperature cooler.

Where is the condenser coil located?

Another crucial difference when comparing condenser coil vs evaporator coil is the location of the component. The condenser coil is located in the outdoor compressor unit of a split air conditioning system.

What is the function of the condenser coil?

When discussing condensers vs evaporators, it is also essential to understand the different functions of each. After the compressor increases the pressure of the refrigerant gas and turns it back into a liquid in the condenser coils, the heat will then be released from it and can be pushed outdoors. It will then return through the coil back into the home to repeat the process.

What is an evaporator coil?

The evaporator coil is another part of the heat transfer process in your AC unit. The evaporator coils will contain refrigerant and pull the heat in from the indoor air as the air is pushed over it by the blower. The cooled air is pushed to the air ducts, while the heat that has been drawn out is transferred toward the outdoor unit.

What is the function of the evaporator coil?

When comparing evaporator coil vs condenser coil, evaporator coils also have an essential function in your AC system. Your AC refrigerant will go through an expansion valve which decreases the pressure, turning it into a gas. This will pass into the evaporator coils for the heat transfer process to occur and create a cool surface before the air is transferred into your home until it reaches the desired temperature.

Is the evaporator inside or outside?

The evaporator coils are located in the indoor air handler unit of your air conditioning system and are considered part of the indoor unit of your AC system.

Why is size important with the condenser and evaporator?

When comparing condensers vs evaporators, it is essential that they are properly paired, or it could lead to issues with the efficiency of your system. If your condenser coil vs evaporator coil , it may be harder to cool your home, and you may have higher humidity levels.

If the condenser coil is slightly larger than the evaporator coil, it will better help dehumidify your home, but if it is too much larger, it may not properly cool it. If the condenser were smaller than the evaporator, then little moisture would be removed from the air, leading to discomfort.

Aluminum vs copper coils in evaporators and condensers

Another consideration to make with condensers vs evaporators is the material the coils are made of. When comparing condenser coil vs evaporator coil, you will find that they will be made from traditional copper or aluminum, which is becoming a more popular alternative option.

Copper was often considered the ideal option for both condenser and evaporator coils, but its cost has led manufacturers to seek out alternatives.

While copper is more expensive, it has a higher conductivity when it comes to heat transfer and is easier to repair if damaged. In contrast, aluminum will likely have to be replaced.

Even though aluminum can be more challenging to repair, they are a more economical alternative and have oxidation protection that copper doesn’t, which helps make it resistant to corrosion.

Maintenance and HVAC evaporators and condensers

As with any type of HVAC component, condensers and AC evaporator coils will need regular maintenance. When comparing and contrasting condensers vs evaporators, understanding the maintenance of each will help you to keep your system running efficiently for longer.

In general, maintenance should be performed at least once a year on your evaporator and condenser or twice a year if you are in an area where the AC is on for a large part of the year. Maintenance on your evaporator and condenser will typically be performed with your regular tune-up or maintenance visit and will often include cleaning the coils and checking them for damage.

Troubleshooting condenser coils

When comparing condensers vs evaporators, it is essential to understand what can go wrong with them and how to troubleshoot potential problems. When something goes wrong with your AC condenser coil, it can affect everything from the efficiency of your system to its function.

Less cooling or hot air

If it seems like the cooling power of your system has diminished or you are feeling hot air coming out of the vents, there may be a problem with the functioning of the condenser coil. The air conditioner condenser coil, in combination with the refrigerant that flows through it, helps to remove heat so that cool air can be pushed into your home. If you have a dirty condenser coil or it becomes clogged, the system will continue to run, but the cooling process will not occur. A condenser coil cleaning can often resolve this problem.

Less energy efficiency

The energy efficiency of your air conditioning system can also be affected if you are having issues with your condenser coil. If it is damaged or dirty, the amount of energy it will need to function will increase, resulting in the air not being as cool as it should be, your air conditioning running more than usual, or your energy bills being higher.

The presence of leaks

Refrigerant leaks can also be a concern with condenser coils. Dirt or damage from the debris can cause even a small leak which will not only lower the overall efficiency of your system but also lead to a potential breakdown. It can be tough to detect a leak with your condenser coil as they are located in the outside unit, but if you notice that your system is struggling to cool down your home, a leak could be the problem.

Troubleshooting evaporator coils

As with your condenser coil, your evaporator coil can also run into issues, with one of the most common being your evaporator coil freezing up. A number of reasons, such as blockage to the airflow, can cause this. If you suspect your evaporator freezing up is the problem, there are a few troubleshooting tips that can help you to identify the cause.

1. Let your evaporator coils thaw

The first step toward troubleshooting evaporator coils freezing up is letting them thaw out so that you can properly inspect them. You will need to turn your system off at the breaker and leave it off for at least 24 hours to thaw your coils out completely. If you need to thaw them quickly to determine the problem, you can speed up the process by thawing them out with a hairdryer. Be sure to move quickly so that no coil portion becomes overheated. If the frost coverage is moderate, you may be able to thaw it with the blow fan by turning it on “fan only” mode.

2. Inspect the airflow

Once you have thawed out your coils, you will want to check your system’s airflow. Start with the filters. If they are dirty or clogged with debris, the airflow will be restricted. If the filter is dirty, replace it and vacuum around the intake housing. Next, ensure that the evaporator is not covered with dust and debris. You can perform the job yourself if you know how to clean the coils. Otherwise, contact an HVAC technician, as the coils are delicate.

3. Check for damage

You may also want to inspect your evaporator coil for possible physical damage, such as bent fins, dents, and problems with the fittings. If you notice damage to your coils, you may need to contact an HVAC technician to have them inspected and repaired.

4. Check your refrigerant levels

Low refrigerant can lead to low pressure, which may result in the temperature of the external part of the evaporator coil falling below freezing. This will result in the evaporator coil freezing up. Low refrigerant levels can be caused by a faulty valve, a coil leak, or somewhere else in the system.

Why is the evaporator coil freezing up?

Your evaporator coil freezing up is most likely caused by restricted airflow, which makes regular filter changes, cleaning, and maintenance crucial to the operation of the evaporator coil and its longevity. Airflow restrictions can also occur when you have too many registers closed. If you have more than a quarter of your registers closed, you may be causing too much restriction, resulting in your evaporator coil freezing up.

You may also experience your evaporator coil freezing up if your refrigerant level is low or you have a malfunction with your system during the defrost cycle. Regular maintenance and cleaning can help you prevent this problem, as your HVAC technician will inspect and clean your coils and ensure you have the correct liquid refrigerant levels.

Find your next condenser or evaporator at Superior Home Supplies

Now that you understand condensers vs evaporators, you may need to upgrade one or both with your cooling system. Whether you are looking for supplies for your central air conditioner or a heat pump, Superior Home Supplies has what you are looking for. Contact us today to find the right condenser or evaporator for your system or to learn more about how important they are to the comfort of your home.

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