Save Money with a Thermal Expansion Valve for Your Air Conditioner

artist rendering of an HVAC unit with a thermal expansion valve

An expansion valve is an important component within your air conditioner, but it may not be providing you with the energy efficiency you have come to expect in today’s day and age.  All units have them, but the more modern ones allow the amount of coolant that is flowing through the coils to be adjusted. This coolant is your unit’s lifeblood and adjusting that flow can save lots of energy and money.

The Standard Option

An expansion valve can be found inside your standard, traditional air conditioner, but it is nothing more than an orifice that allows coolant to flow into the evaporator coil at 100% capacity at all times. While this might sound great when it is 100 degrees with 70% humidity outside, the truth is that 100% capacity is not always needed. In other instances, even the full flow is not enough to cool a building. This is where newer, more advanced technologies come into play.

Understanding Your Cooling Load

Before you can truly appreciate what a thermal expansion valve can do for you, you have to understand what your building’s cooling load is and how it is calculated. The load is the amount of BTUs of heat energy per hour that your air conditioner has to remove from the air to maintain a comfortable temperature. There are all kinds of things that can affect this load, from the size of the home to its insulation. It is constantly changing with the outdoor environment, but your standard expansion valve does not change with it. This can pose problems.

Issues with a Standard Valve

With a valve that allows 100% coolant capacity to flow through the evaporator coils, it is possible to overload the coil and the compressor when the cooling load decreases. Essentially, when it cools off outside, excess coolant can flood your compressor and damage it. In other cases, the amount of refrigerant that is being delivered is far too low, resulting in unfavorable conditions and uncomfortable temperatures within a building.

Today’s Solution

These days, a thermal expansion valve (known within the industry as a TXV), helps to conserve the energy consumed by your air conditioner simply by regulating the amount of electricity your compressor uses. The actual flow of refrigerant can be adjusted as the cooling load changes, reducing the electrical load and allowing the compressor, which is the most energy-hungry component in any air conditioning system, to become more energy-efficient. These TXVs are found in almost all new air conditioners and your existing system can be retrofitted. For a retrofitted system, the SEER rating (or the rating that essentially measures unit efficiency) can climb by as much as 20%!

There is yet another benefit associated with thermal expansion valves in that units fitted with them experience less coolant loss over time. With as many as 75% of units being undercharged, this means that they underperform while they continue to use energy. A TXV can help, but it is important to have it installed by a licensed, qualified technician.

If you feel you may be having a problem with your system, call And Services today. We’ll come out and evaluate your system and get it performing to peak performance!