How do you test a car condenser ?
The best way to test a car condenser is by knowing how it should be operating correctly. You can compare the operation and determine if there are any issues with the condenser. A quick and easy test could be performed without using any special tools.
- Start the engine
- Turn the A/C on
- A/C set to Max Cold and Max blower operation
- Run the A/C for a few minutes to let the system stabilize
- On the engine compartment locate the condenser(It is in front of the car and looks like the radiator)
- Feel the temperature of the condenser coil beginning from the top of the condenser to the bottom of the condenser.
- A good operating condenser should be hot at the top warm on the middle of the condenser coil and cool on the bottom part of the coil surface.
Results of the condenser Test
- Cold spot on the condenser coil surface indicates a problem and must be corrected
- Hot from top to bottom condenser coil indicates a problem and must be corrected
Normal operation of an a/c condenser
- The Hot superheated gas from the compressor enters the top of the condenser at 200 F. The condensing temperature is going to be about 30 F warmer than the outside(ambient) air.
- The outside air temperature is 95 F. The condensing temperature is 95 F + 30 F = 125 F. The refrigerant must be cooled to 125 F (200 F – 125 F) in the first part of the condenser coil. This is call desuperheating. It is the first job of the condenser.
- Partway through the condenser coil the superheat is removed and the refrigerant reaches the actual condensing temperature of 125 F ; liquid begins to form in the coil. Liquid will continue to form at the condensing temperature of 125 F until all the vapor has turned to 100 % liquid. This is called the Latent Heat of Condensation.
- The liquid can now reject sensible heat and subcool to below the 125 F condensing temperature. Any liquid below 125 F condensing temperature is referred to as a subcooled liquid.
- The liquid in the bottom of the condenser draining into the receiver or expansion device depending on the type of system may cool to 110 F. This would give the liquid 15 F(125 F – 110 F) of subcooling.
Impact of debris and damage of the car condenser and temperature differential.
All air-cooled condensers do not have the same exact 30 F relationship with the ambient air. It is good practice to determine and record the temperature relationship between the air and refrigerant at start-up time. Then if the relationship were to change, you would suspect trouble, such as a dirty condenser, system contaminated or an overcharge of refrigerant.
A well-maintained clean condenser will have a close 30 F or even lower temperature relationship with the ambient air, compared with a road debris restricted ac condenser. The efficiency of the condenser will vary according to the condenser design, size and quality of the materials used for its construction. The operation of the a/c condenser depends greatly on the flow speed and volume of air going through its fins to accelerate the heat exchange between the refrigerant and the ambient air.
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A good operating A/C Condenser should be hot at the top, warm on the middle of the condenser coil, and cool on the bottom part of the coil surface. If the a/c condenser is not operating as described, that is a warning sign that you are dealing with a damaged, or bad ac condenser. A bad A/C condenser will greatly affect the longevity of the air conditioner compressor. An underperforming air conditioning condenser will affect the entire a/c system operation and if not corrected on time will lead to more expensive repairs.
Common Warning signs of a Bad A/C Condenser
This is a list of the most common signs of a bad a/c condenser:
- Cold spots on the condenser coil surface indicates a problem
- Hot from top to bottom condenser coil indicates a problem
- A/C condenser corrosion will reduce the performance of the condenser
- road debris or surface restriction on the condenser
- Any bent or missing fins will decrease the rate of heat exchange between the refrigerant and the outside ambient air
- Excessive overload on the a/c compressor
- High overall head pressure of the air conditioning system
- Noticeable decrease in vehicle interior cooling performance
- Several compressor failures in a relatively short period of time
- Decreased condenser subcooling
- Higher temperature differential between the outside ambient air and the condensation temperature.
- Condenser fan assembly operating on high continuously
- Lower A/C compressor capacity.
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Car A/C Condenser test near me.
To know if a car a/c condenser is working properly the a/c condenser test can’t just be reduced to a leak test. The automotive air conditioner condenser must be tested for their heat exchange capacity. A comprehensive condenser coil test must include a detailed visual inspection to discover any defect or damages that could negatively affect the rate of heat rejection between the superheated refrigerant from inside the vehicle and the outside ambient air going through the condenser coil.
How to get colder air at the ac vents by improving the condenser heat rejection capacity.
A clean, well maintained car a/c condenser parallel-flow design will give the coldest air possible at the inside cabin vents if it is functioning according to manufacturer specifications. For the condenser to work at 100% efficiency it must be able to have all the built-in manufacturer improvements working as efficiently as possible.
A/C condenser corrosion will reduce the performance of the condenser. Corrosion, road debris or surface restriction on the condenser surface only means less working surface area for the heat exchange and condensation to happen. Any bent or missing fins will decrease the rate of heat exchange between the refrigerant and the outside ambient air ,creating an increase overload on the a/c compressor and increasing the overall head pressure of the air conditioning system. The automotive condenser is in most cases integrated on the front of the vehicle and uses outside ambient air as the medium into which heat is rejected .Any decrease in the volume of air flow through the coil will impact the condensation and subcooling process. Proper condenser fan assembly operation, condenser perimeter seal installation, and fan shroud is vital to the auto air conditioning system.
To improve the efficiency of the condenser and to make it smaller and less heavy ,the surface area of the auto a/c condenser has been extended with fins. Manufacturers have improved the designs of old inefficient condenser with new technologies that increase considerably the heat rejection rate of the automotive condenser. By improving the quality of the aluminum, the number of fins and internal refrigerant passages design the condensation happens closer to the outside ambient temperature. The new a/c condenser parallel-flow design plates and fins are bonded or soldered to increase heat transfer and to eliminate any contact resistance ( air gaps) that will reduce heat transfer. Headers at the inlet and outlet of the heat exchanger are also bonded to the plates through soldering.
The perfect automotive a/c condenser
A perfect condenser would condense the refrigerant at the same temperature as the ambient. The perfect condenser is not practical to be installed on the front of a vehicle inside the engine compartment, because it would be too large to reach this kind of efficiency. Our ASE certified mechanics can get you as close as possible to a perfect condenser operation by doing a condenser test ,maintenance or condenser replacement. Call Us today ! We have a mobile auto a/c shop operating in Hialeah, Miami Lakes, and Doral.