Condensing Temperature, Condenser Split, and Subcool
In this podcast, Bryan talks about condensing temperature, condenser split, and subcooling. All three of the values are proportional. If one changes, all three of them will change. Saturation is also a critical concept that relates to all three of those, so we also cover those relationships.
As you remember, a condenser rejects heat and turns vapor refrigerant back into a liquid.
Condensing temperature is the saturation temperature at which the refrigerant changes from vapor to liquid; it can change depending on ambient temperature. While in the condenser, the refrigerant will be at saturation and be a liquid-vapor mix throughout most of the coil.
Subcooling indicates how low a liquid is below liquid-vapor saturation. For example, if you had a condensing temperature of 110°F and took a liquid line measurement of 98°F, you would have 12°F of subcooling (110 – 98 = 12). Although some high-SEER HVAC systems may get their liquid line temperatures pretty close to the ambient temperature, you cannot have a liquid line temperature below the ambient temperature. Otherwise, you probably have a restriction in the line. Many technicians set a charge based on subcooling.
Condenser split is a bit trickier to define. You DON'T compare the temperatures of air going into the condenser and air going out. Instead, it is the difference between the condensing temperature and the outdoor temperature. The outdoor temperature MUST be lower than the condensing temperature. Otherwise, heat rejection cannot take place. In general, most manufacturers tend to engineer their HVAC systems to maintain a 15-30°F condensing split.
Heat mode has its own set of challenges. For example, subcooling can be difficult to predict in heat mode. However, between 20-30°F of subcooling in heat mode is normal.