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The Thermal Expansion Valve: A Nice Little Feature You’ll Want in Your Next A/C

Posted on August 8, 2013

If you’ve been shopping for an air conditioner, you may have heard about exciting new features that make your system work more efficiently. These features are far superior to older, inefficient systems, and may allow the new A/C to pay for itself halfway through its lifetime.

A high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, also called the SEER rating, is one of the most widely known of these features, but another important – but lesser known – one is the thermal expansion valve. This feature, also known as a TXV or TEV, is standard on many new systems and can be retrofitted after installation to split A/C systems that didn’t come with one.

The thermal expansion valve does pretty much what its name implies – it expands to let in more refrigerant when needed. It works by detecting the temperature of refrigerant in the outlet of the A/C’s evaporator coil. Since the refrigerant gets hotter when cooling load is high, the thermal expansion valve opens wider to allow more refrigerant to pass through. The valve makes refrigerant distribution much more precise than in older systems that use system pressure dynamics to control flow. In addition to better cooling, it reduces refrigerant evaporation that can lead to compressor damage.

It’s estimated that an incorrect refrigerant charge can decrease efficiency from 5 to 20 percent, which can really have an impact on energy bills. This is especially true in areas such as Wichita, where temperatures are often very hot. Besides changing temperatures, cooling load can also be affected by sunlight and indoor factors such as heat generated by ovens, clothes dryers, dishwashers and other appliances.

Ask our knowledgeable technicians at Comfort Systems about finding an air conditioner with a thermal expansion valve when it’s time to upgrade your A/C. We’ll help you find a system that is sized just right for your home and contains this handy feature.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about thermal expansion valves and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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