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Home > What's New > The benefits of inverter control in air-cooled condensers(1)
  • The benefits of inverter control in air-cooled condensers(1)2009-03-20
  • Inverter control of fans in the air-cooled condensers of air-conditioning and process-cooling systems brings a host of operations, maintenance and energy-efficiency benefits.
    Gareth Holden highlights the many benefits of variable-speed drives for air-cooled condensers – including complying with a noise-abatement order.

    Installing variable-speed drives (VSDS) to control pumps and fans will in many commercial and industrial applications deliver significant energy reductions. The primary reason is because there is a cube relationship between power and speed.

    Energy savings

    It is well documented that for a number of examples, such as the control of condenser fans in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, even greater energy savings can be achieved. The cause is no secret, but deserves greater recognition. Quite simply, it is based on the effect that installing a single inverter can have on reducing condensing temperature.

    These fans are used to control the discharge pressure from the compressor. In an air-cooled system, this will normally consist of a multi-fan condenser with the fans sequenced individually from a step control to maintain the required pressure.

    This type of control is called ‘saw tooth control’, as it results in the pressure fluctuating between, say, 16 to 18 bar for example, with an average of 17 bar. When a single inverter is applied to control all of the fans in parallel, we can maintain a set pressure of 16 bar by modulating all the fans together.

    The compressor will now operate at a condensing temperature 6 K lower than that achieved with the step control. You should consider the following rule of thumb: for every 1 K that condensing temperature is reduced, refrigeration efficiency is increased by 2%, and the absorbed power of the compressor is 10 to 15 times that of the condenser fans. It is worth committing this information to memory when you consider the scale of savings that can be made in this way.

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