Disappearing Latent Capacity – Short #95
In this short podcast, Bryan explains why latent capacity is prone to disappearing. He also explains what actually happens when the latent capacity drops.
When you measure enthalpy split across the coil, you'll learn that the equipment design makes it perform to AHRI design conditions. Those design conditions are 95-degree outdoor temperature and 80-degree indoor temperature at 50% indoor relative humidity. So, the A/C system must remove a lot of moisture. However, we don't usually run A/C units for 80-degree indoor temperatures; we usually aim for a 75-degree indoor temperature. When we have 80 degrees, the sensible AND latent heat loads are higher. Things get tricky when we encounter disappearing latent capacity, which is when you remove less moisture.
If we have equipment with a sensible heat ratio (SHR) of 0.75 at design conditions, we'll likely have a higher SHR with our typical conditions. When the dew point is lower, water condenses on the evaporator coil at a lower temperature; water holds up the surface temperature of the evaporator coil and optimizes heat removal, suction pressure, and compression ratio. When heat transfers to the water on the coil, the sensible heat in the air decreases via a latent process.
When we don't have moisture on the coil, all of the heat going from the air into the refrigerant is making it in via conduction through the metal coil walls. Unless the coil gets below the dew point, it won't remove any moisture; we can still remove sensible heat, but you don't have the advantage of the moisture “holding up” the surface temperature.
In very dry climates, we increase the airflow because we don't want to remove moisture from the air, but we still want heat to be available to the evaporator coil. However, we have to be careful about the bypass factor.
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