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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