The process of refrigeration uses the vapor-compression refrigeration cycle to move heat from one place to another. In many HVAC air conditioner and heat pump applications, the process of refrigeration or the vapor-compression cycle is what makes it work. This process, in the air conditioning mode, moves heat from inside the structure to the outside.
The Process of Vapor Compression Refrigeration
Heat pumps draw heat from the outside even when it is cold and move the heat inside using the vapor-compression cycle or refrigeration. Heats pumps, by the way, heat in the winter and cool in the summer but it uses the refrigeration process to accomplish the heating and cooling. The process of refrigeration or vapor-compression cycle in HVAC air conditioning and heat pump applications is a mechanical and chemical process of moving heat from one place where it is not wanted or needed and moving it to another place.
Vapor-Compression Refrigeration is the chief process used in residential and commercial refrigeration. This mechanical process is used by millions of people to stay cool by removing heat through vapor-compression refrigeration. The process of vapor compression refrigeration is also used in industry worldwide for warehouses, refrigerated trucks and rail cars, and other processes that need to provide cooling for the industry.
Vapor Compression Refrigeration | Refrigeration HVAC
Vapor compression refrigeration typically involves a refrigerant which includes R-134A, R-22, and R-410A are the common types of refrigerants used in HVAC now. Vapor compression refrigeration uses compressors commonly used in HVAC such as the Reciprocating Compressor, the Rotary Screw Compressor, the Centrifugal Compressor, and Scroll Compressors as an essential part of the Vapor Compression Refrigeration process.
Since there is a relationship between the pressure and the temperature of the refrigerants, the pressure is used to manipulate the temperature of the refrigerants. Many technicians use a pressure-temperature relationship chart or refrigerant PT chart is used for checking systems pressures to ensure the normal operation of a vapor compression system. Here a few basic charts we provide here at High Performance HVAC:
- R-410A Pressure Temperature Chart
- R-134A Refrigerant Pressure Temperature Chart
- Refrigerant Pressure Temperature Chart R-22 - R410A - R134A combined in this multi-chart
Moving Heat is Refrigeration | Vapor Compression Refrigeration | Refrigeration HVAC
The HVAC air conditioning and heat pump refrigeration process is simply a matter of moving heat from one place to another. In moving this heat it either provides heating (for a heat pump in the winter) or provides cooling (for a heat pump and an air conditioner in the summer).
There are many technical considerations for this process to work as efficiently as possible such as the proper amount of airflow or water flow across the evaporator and/or a properly charged HVAC air conditioning and heat pump system.
For forced air systems a good tight ductwork system also helps efficiency as well as ensures that the conditioned air gets to its designated area. The process of refrigeration in HVAC works at maintaining comfortable temperatures for many different applications in HVAC.
Alternatives to Vapor Compression Refrigeration
There are other methods for providing cooling. Some methods require mechanical processes and some do not. Some methods are better than others depending on the application. By far, vapor compression refrigeration is the most widely used and popular method of cooling. Briefly, here is a list of other methods for providing cooling other than vapor compression refrigeration:
- Evaporative cooling uses the cooling effect of evaporation to reduce the temperature of the air. In dry arid regions, swamp coolers are used to provide evaporative cooling.
- Absorption refrigeration systems are popular in large commercial buildings. These systems do not use a compressor to compressor the refrigerant. Instead, they use chemicals and a heat source then another method of rejecting the heat from the chemical.
- Natural cooling uses the Earth and fans to provide cooling.
Vapor-compression refrigeration is the most popular method of providing heating and cooling for heat pumps and air conditioners. While there are alternative methods for providing heating and cooling, vapor compression remains the main method for how air conditioners work and how heat pumps work to provide comfort for millions of people.
This technology has evolved and matured to make things reliable. Everyone knows, aside from a random breakdown, that their air conditioner or heat pump system will provide a reliable source of heating and cooling for their homes and businesses. An entire industry is built on this system of refrigeration so there are knowledgeable people and a supply chain of parts and equipment readily available to repair or replace broken equipment.
For the short term, and possibly the long-term, vapor compression refrigeration is here to stay.
Air Conditioning and Vapor Compression Refrigeration
Technical Resource: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology