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Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Chapter (4)
4.1 Introduction
Sensors are detectors that have the ability to measure a physical quality such as
pressure, temperature and velocity. The sensors send these signals to the actuator (
electronic, electric or mechanical devices) that is going to be doing the action.
Today, the touch screen that you have on your phone has sensors, and they use
pressure sensors for opening the doors at the market.

4.2 Temperature Sensors

The most commonly used type of all the sensors are those which detect heat flux or
temperature. As we know, the movement of molecules and atoms produces heat
(K.E) and the greater the movement, the more heat that is generated. Temperature
Sensors measure the amount of heat energy or even coldness that is generated by
the system, allowing to “sense” or detect any physical change to that temperature
producing either an analogue or digital output.
The temperature sensor consists of two basic physical types:
 Contact Temperature Sensor Types: These types of temperature sensor are
required to be in physical contact with the object being sensed and use
conduction to monitor changes in temperature. They can be used to detect
solids, liquids or gases over a wide range of temperatures.
 Non-contact Temperature Sensor Types: These types of temperature sensor
use convection and radiation to monitor changes in temperature. They detect the
radiant energy being transmitted in the form of infra-red radiation. The two
basic types of contact or even non-contact temperature sensors can also be sub-
divided into the following three groups of sensors:
 Electro-mechanical,
 Resistive,
 Electronic.

4.2.1 Thermostat
Thermostat is a contact type electro-mechanical temperature sensor or switch. It
consists of two different metals such as nickel, copper, tungsten or aluminum etc,
that are bonded together to form a Bi-metallic strip. The different linear expansion
rates of the two dissimilar metals produces a mechanical bending movement when
Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

the strip is subjected to heat. The bi-metallic strip can be used itself as an electrical
switch or as a mechanical way of operating an electrical switch in thermostatic
controls and are used extensively to control hot water heating elements in boilers,
furnaces, hot water storage tanks as well as in vehicle radiator cooling systems. The Bi-metallic thermostat

The thermostat consists of two different metals stuck together back to back. When
it is cold the contacts are closed and current passes through the thermostat. When it
gets hot, one metal expands more than the other and the bonded bi-metallic strip
bends up (or down) opening the contacts preventing the current from flowing,

Figure (4.1) Bi-metal temperature sensor.

There are two main types of bi-metallic strips based mainly upon their movement
when subjected to temperature changes. There are the “snap-action” types that
produce an instantaneous “ON/OFF” type action on the electrical contacts at a set
temperature point Fig.(4.2) and the slower “creep-action” types that gradually
change their position as the temperature changes, Fig.(4.1).

Figure (4.2) On/Off Thermostat.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Snap-action type thermostats are commonly used in our homes for controlling the
temperature setpoint of ovens, irons, immersion hot water tanks and they can
also be found on walls to control the domestic heating system.
Creeper types generally consist of a bi-metallic coil or spiral that slowly unwinds or
coils-up as the temperature changes. Generally, creeper type bi-metallic strips are
more sensitive to temperature changes than the standard snap ON/OFF types as the
strip is longer and thinner making them ideal for use in temperature gauges.
Although very cheap and are available over a wide operating range, one main
disadvantage of the standard snap-action type thermostats when used as a
temperature sensor, is that they have a large hysteresis range from when the
electrical contacts open until when they close again.
For example, it may be set to 20oC but may not open until 22oC or close again until
18oC. So the range of temperature swing can be quite high. Commercially available
bi-metallic thermostats for home use do have temperature adjustment screws that
allow for a more precise desired temperature set-point and hysteresis level to be
pre-set. The Thermistor

The thermistor is a special type of resistor which changes its physical resistance
when exposed to changes in temperature, Fig.(4.3).

Figure (4.3) Thermistor

Thermistors are generally made from ceramic materials such as oxides of Nickel,
manganese or Cobalt coated in glass which makes them easily damaged. Their
main advantage over snap-action types is their speed of response to any changes
in temperature, accuracy and repeatability.
Most types of thermistor’s have a Negative Temperature Coefficient of resistance
or (NTC), that is their resistance value goes DOWN with an increase in the
temperature, and of course there are some which have a Positive Temperature

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Coefficient, (PTC), in that their resistance value goes UP with an increase in

Thermistor are rated by their resistive value at room temperature (25oC), their time
constant (the time to react to the temperature change) and their power rating
with respect to the current flowing through them. Thermistors are passive resistive
devices which means we need to pass a current through it to produce a measurable
voltage output.

Example (1): Temperature Sensors

The following thermistor has a resistance value of 10 KΩ at 25oC and a resistance
value of 100 Ω at 100oC. Calculate the voltage drop across the thermistor and
hence its output voltage (Vout) for both temperatures when connected in series
with a 1kΩ resistor across a 12V power supply, Fig.(4.4).

Figure (4.4)

At 25oC

At 100oC

By changing the fixed resistor value of R2 (in our example 1kΩ) to a potentiometer
or preset, a voltage output can be obtained at a predetermined temperature set point
for example, 5V output at 60oC and by varying the potentiometer a particular
output voltage level can be obtained over a wider temperature range. The
thermistor’s are non-linear devices (exponential change with temperature).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element Resistive Temperature Detectors, (RTD)

Another type of electrical resistance temperature sensor is the Resistance
Temperature Detector or RTD. RTD’s are precision temperature sensors made
from high-purity conducting metals such as platinum, copper or nickel wound into
a coil and whose electrical resistance changes as a function of temperature, similar
to that of the thermistor. Also available are thin-film RTD’s. These devices have a
thin film of platinum paste is deposited onto a white ceramic substrate, Fig.(4.5).

Figure (4.5) A Resistive RTD

Resistive temperature detectors have positive temperature coefficients (PTC) but

unlike the thermistor their output is extremely linear producing very accurate
measurements of temperature. However, they have very poor thermal sensitivity,
that is a change in temperature only produces a very small output change (1Ω/oC).
The more common types are made from platinum and called Platinum Resistance
Thermometer (PRT‘s) with the most commonly available of them all the Pt100
sensor, which has a standard resistance value of 100 Ω at 0oC.

4.2.2 The Thermocouple

The thermocouple is the most commonly used type of all the temperature sensor
types due to its simplicity, ease of use and their speed of response to changes in
temperature, and their small size. Thermocouples have the widest temperature
range of all the temperature sensors (-200oC to well over 2000oC). Thermocouple Construction

The operating principal of a thermocouple is very simple and basic. When fused
together the junction of the two dissimilar metals such as copper and constantan
produces a “thermo-electric” effect which gives a constant potential difference of
only a few millivolts (mV) between them. The voltage difference between the two
junctions is called the “Seebeck effect” as a temperature gradient is generated
along the conducting wires producing an emf. Then the output voltage from a
thermocouple is a function of the temperature changes, Fig.(4.6).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4.6) Temperature Sensor (Thermocouple).

It made from a variety of different materials enabling extreme temperatures of

between -200oC to over +2000oC to be measured. Internationally recognized
standards have been developed with thermocouple coating color, Table (4.1).

Table (4.1): Thermocouple Color Codes

Thermocouples Sensor Color Codes

Code British BS
Conductors (+/-) Sensitivity
Type 1843:1952

E Nickel Chromium / Constantan -200 to 900oC

J Iron / Constantan 0 to 750oC

Nickel Chromium / Nickel

K -200 to 1250oC

N Nicrosil / Nisil 0 to 1250oC

T Copper / Constantan -200 to 350oC

Copper / Copper Nickel

U 0 to 1450oC
Compensating for “S” and “R”

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element Thermocouple Amplification

The type of amplifier, either discrete or in the form of an operational amplifier
needs to be carefully selected, because good drift stability is required to prevent
recalibration of the thermocouple at frequent intervals. This makes the chopper and
instrumentation type of amplifier preferable for most temperature sensing
applications, Fig.(4.7).

Figure (4.7) Signal Amplification.

Other Temperature Sensor Types not mentioned here include, Semiconductor

Junction Sensors, Infra-red and Thermal Radiation Sensors, Medical type
Thermometers, Indicators and Color Changing Inks or Dyes.

4.3 Thermostatic Control

Lets add a basic control system to a refrigeration system. First we need to know
what loads there are to be controlled. The image on the left shows a small split
system for a walk in cooler with 3 electrical devices; a compressor, condenser fan
motor and evaporator fan motor. Those 3 electrical devices are represented on
the ladder schematic shown in Fig.(4.8).

Figure (4.8) Room Thermostatic Control.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

This type of wiring diagram has branch runs all shown as parallel circuits going
from the left line (L1) to the neutral line (N). They look like the rungs in a ladder
hence the name ladder schematic. The EFM (Evaporator Fan Motor) must run all
the time so that the box temperature stays uniform and the thermostat senses the
average box temperature not some pocket of stratified air. Press the Off Cycle
Button to see the circuit through the EFM. Now Press the On Cycle Button to close
the T-STAT (thermostat) and call for refrigeration. The T-Stat "makes" on a rise of
temperature. Notice that the COMPR(compressor) and the CFM (Condenser Fan
Motor) both come on. A T-Stat that "makes on a rise" is a cooling T-Stat. A T-Stat
that "makes on a fall" is a heating T-Stat, Fig.(4.9).

Figure (4.9): Diagram Off Cycle On Cycle

Also note that just because the wiring on the left side of the T-Stat is not colored
red when the T-Stat is open, that does not mean there is no electricity there. There
is a full electrical potential on that line and if you were to come along and stick
your finger at that point you would be shocked. The red colored wiring indicates
the logical flow routes. Non red wires are not necessarily without voltage potential.
The graph below shows how an operating control cycles. The control is set to start
refrigeration if the box warms up to 40 °F That's called the Cut In point. The
system keeps running until it reaches the Cut Out point which is 37 °F where it
shuts off and awaits the next call for cooling. In this example there is a 3
°F differential between the cut in and cut out points. The differential must be wide
enough that the equipment does not short cycle. Short cycling means to turn on and
off too rapidly. Starting is hard on the equipment, so you want to keep the number
of starts per hour to a reasonable amount, not an excessive amount. The 40 °F point
is a very special temperature. It is the standard cut in point for most refrigeration
Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

systems. Above 40 °F bacterial growth rates in stored food increase dramatically.

Below 40 °F bacteria growth rate is subdued.
The cut out point is more of a compromise than anything else. Some products may
store better at colder temperatures but colder temperatures might adversely affect
other products in the same box. There is also a concern about keeping the
evaporator from icing up. There is no active defrost system in a standard
refrigeration system. (defrost systems are only a standard item with freezers) If a
refrigeration system was set to cut in at 36 °F and cut out at 33 °F and the
evaporator was operating with a 7 °F TD to the box air, the temperature of the
evaporator fins would be 29 °F to 26 °F during the run cycle. Since the freezing
point of water is 32 °F you can see that moisture in the air would sublimate onto
the evaporator surface and grow into thicker and thicker layers of ice. Not only
does ice act like an insulator and reduce thermal transfer, it can totally block
airflow through the evaporator fins and virtually stop thermal transfer. Some people
try to push this wall a little and it is possible to squeak out a degree or 2 colder than
a 40 °F cut in point. However, anything more than a couple of degrees will risk
icing the evaporator, Fig.(4.10).

Figure (4.10): IMP SI

What is a room thermostat?

A room thermostat is used to regulate and maintain a desirable temperature
throughout your home. It works by switching ON or OFF your heating system as
the temperature varies throughout the day. For example, if the temperature drops
below a certain level, a sensor in the room thermostat can be made to trigger the
switch for your boiler which will heat the radiators and in turn, the rooms in your
home. If the room rises above a certain temperature, the thermostat will then turn
off your central heating system so that your house will cool down to its desired
temperature once more, Fig.(4.11).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4.11) Primary Control Element With Adjusting Switch for room
The adjustment knob on a commercial T-Stat sets the cut in point. The differential
is adjustable by setting a slider inside the enclosure. Thermostatic controls are
manufactured with an wide range of variations. They have fixed differentials,
adjustable differentials, different operating ranges and various accuracy's, various
electrical load ratings, different types of sensors, electro-mechanical, electronic etc.

4.4 Pressure Sensors

These types of sensors are able to determine the pressure applied to it from a
number of different types of external forces. Again, you will find them in a number
of different areas today, Fig.(4.12). Other types of pressure sensors actually
measure the pressure of gas or liquids. Some of the types of pressure sensors in use
include gauge pressure sensors and vacuum pressure sensors.

Figure (4.12) Pressure Sensors

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

4.5 Expansion Device

This is one of the basic components of the refrigeration system.
1. It reduce the pressure & temperature of the refrigerant coming from the
condenser as per the requirement of the system.
2. It must regulate the flow (Metering) of refrigerant as per the load on the

4.5.1 Type of Expansion Devices

The expansion device is essentially a restriction offering resistance to flow so that
the pressure drops, resulting in a throttling process.
Basically Two types of expansion devices.
 Variable-restriction Type.
 Constant restriction Type.
4.5.2 Variable Restriction Type
In this, the extent of opening area of flow keeps on changing depending on the type
of control. Three common types are:
 Automatic Expansion Valve (Pressure Control )
 Thermostatic Expansion Valve
 Float Valves

i) High side Float valve

In this it maintains the liquid at a constant level in the condenser.
ii) Low side Float valve
In this maintains the liquid at constant level in the Evaporator.

4.6 Capillary Tubes

The capillary tube is a fixed restriction type device. It is a long and narrow tube
connecting the condenser directly to the evaporator.
Its resistance to flow permits the capillary to be used as as pressure reducing device
to meter the flow of refrigerant given to the Evaporator.
Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

The Pressure drop through the capillary tube is due to the following two factors;
i. Friction due to fluid viscosity, resulting in frictional pressure drop.
ii. Acceleration due to the flashing of the liquid refrigerant into vapor resulting
in momentum pressure drop.
iii. The cumulative pressure drop must be equal to the difference in pressure at
the two ends of the tube.
For a given state of refrigerant:
 The pressure drop is directly proportional to the length and inversely
proportional to the bore diameter of the tube.
 Capillary tube is the most commonly used expansion device in small
refrigeration units, such as domestic refrigerators, window type air
conditioners, water coolers etc.
 The advantage of a capillary tube are its simplicity , low cost and the absence
of any moving parts.
4.6.1 Advantages of capillary tubes
i. It is inexpensive.
ii. It does not have any moving parts hence it does not require maintenance
iii. Capillary tube provides an open connection between condenser and the
evaporator hence during off-cycle, pressure equalization occurs between
condenser and evaporator. This reduces the starting torque requirement of
the motor since the motor starts with same pressure on the two sides of the
compressor. Hence, a motor with low starting torque can be used.
iv. Ideal for hermetic compressor based systems, which are critically charged
and factory assembled.

4.6.2 Disadvantages of the capillary tube are

i. It cannot adjust itself to changing flow conditions in response to daily and
seasonal variation in ambient temperature and load. Hence, COP is usually
low under off design conditions.
ii. It is susceptible to clogging because of narrow bore of the tube, hence,
utmost care is required at the time of assembly. A filter-drier should be used
ahead of the capillary to prevent entry of moisture or any solid particles
 During off-cycle liquid refrigerant flows to evaporator because of pressure
difference between condenser and evaporator. The evaporator may get

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

flooded and the liquid refrigerant may flow to compressor and damage it
when it starts. Therefore critical charge is used in capillary tube based
systems. Further, it is used only with hermetically sealed compressors where
refrigerant does not leak so that critical charge can be used. Normally an
accumulator is provided after the evaporator to prevent slugging of
 The refrigerant must be free from moisture and dirt otherwise it will choke
the tube and stop the flow of refrigerant.

4.7 Automatic Expansion Valve

This valve maintains a constant pressure throughout the varying load on the
evaporator controlling the quantity of refrigerant flowing into Evaporator. It
consists of a needle valve, a seat, a diaphragm and a spring as shown in figure

Figure (4.13) Automatic Expansion Valve.

The Automatic Expansion Valve (AEV) also known as a constant pressure
expansion valve acts in such a manner so as to maintain a constant pressure and
thereby a constant temperature in the evaporator. As shown in the figure, the valve
consists of an adjustment spring that can be adjusted to maintain the required
temperature in the evaporator.

4.7.1 Thermostatic Expansion Valve

Thermostatic expansion valve controls the flow of refrigerant through the
evaporator in such a way that the quality of the vapor leaving the evaporator will
always in superheated condition. Its operation is used for maintaining a constant
degree of superheat at the evaporator outlet, Fig.(4.14).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4.14) Thermostatic Expansion Valve.

Assume the spring is adjusted initially to maintain a pressure of 1.5 bar in the
evaporator at a given load. If the pressure falls below 1.5 bar due to decrease in
load, the spring pressure will exceed the evaporator pressure and causes the valve
to open more and increases the flow of refrigerant. If the pressure in the evaporator
increases due to increase in load above 1.5 bar, the evaporator pressure will exceed
the spring tension and valve move in closing direction. This reduces the quantity of
refrigerant flow in the evaporator.
To adjust the static superheat, turn the valve's setting stem. Turning clockwise
increases static superheat and effectively reduces refrigerant flow through
the valve. Turning counterclockwise reduces static superheat and increases
refrigerant flow.

4.7.2 TEV with External Pressure Equalizer

The pressure drop of the refrigerant is quite significant in large evaporators, for
example in direct expansion coils with a single long tube. Thermostatic expansion
valve maintains Fp – FE = Ab(Pp – PE) at a constant value equal to spring force.
The pressure Pp is the saturation pressure at (TE + ΔTs) while PE is saturation
pressure at TE. In a large evaporator, due to pressure drop ΔPE, the pressure at exit
is say, Pe - ΔPe and corresponding saturation temperature at exit of evaporator is
TE-ΔTE. The superheat ΔTs corresponds to evaporator pressure PE and temperature
TE. Therefore, effective superheat at evaporator exit is ΔTs + ΔTE. This may
become very large and may result in low COP and lower volumetric efficiency of

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

compressor. To correct for this, TEV is provided with a tapping, which feeds the
pressure PE - ΔPE from evaporator exit to the bottom of bellows. This will result in
a degree of superheat equal to the set value ΔTs. A TEV with this provision is
called TEV with External Pressure Equalizer. In this TEV a stuffing box is
provided between pushpins and the valve body so that evaporator inlet pressure is
not communicated to the bottom of bellows.
In any case a large evaporator pressure drop leads to a lower COP; hence a number
of parallel paths or circuits are provided in the evaporator. The refrigerant is fed to
these paths by a single TEV fitted with a distributor. In such a case, it is
recommended that external pressure equalizer be used and care taken to ensure that
all the paths are symmetric and have the same length, Fig.(4.15).

Fig.(4.15): Thermostatic Expansion Valve with an external equalizer.

Example (4-1):
In a factory of assembly domestic and window air conditioning unit, it is required
to detect the length and diameter of capillary tube suitable for a unit under the
following specifications:
Capacity of Compressor "Refrigeration Capacity": 1.5 TR
Refrigerant used : R22
Condensation Temp., : 130oF
Evaporation Temp., : 45oF
Amount of Subcooling : 15oF
Return gas Temp., : 95oF

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

RC = 1.5 x 12000 = 18000 BTU/h

From chart of R22 and Compressor capacity of 18000 Btu/h:
The capillary tube diameter is 0.75 inch and the total length is 30 inch.

Example (4-2):
The evaporation pressure of a refrigeration system using R12 as a working fluid
and TEV charged with liquid refrigerant reads 2.5 bar. What is the bulb
temperature which fitted at evaporator exit if the amount of desired superheat is
5oC? What is the spring pressure in that case?
PB Pressure inside the bulb
PE Evaporator pressure
PS Spring pressure
From table at P = 2.5 bar:
The saturation temperature = TEV = 266.9 K
TB = Bulb temperature = TE + 5 = 266.9 + 5 = 271.9 K

From table at TSat= TB= 271.9 K:

PSat= PB = 2.969 bar

Force balance:

Example (4-3):
A TEV is connected to external equalizer and using R12 with a pressure drop of 68
kPa in the evaporator. The temperature at inlet to the evaporator is 5 oC while the
spring pressure is assumed to be equal 52 kPa. Determine the amount of superheat
at the evaporator exit.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

PB Pressure inside the bulb
PE1 Inlet evaporator pressure
PE2 Exit evaporator pressure
PS Spring pressure
TEV = 5 oC  PEV,I = 360.6 kPa

From chart at PSat=292.6:

TEV2= 272 K
Force balance:
PB = PEV2 + PSp= 292.6 + 52 = 344.6 kPa

From Table at PB= 344.6 kPa:

TB= Tsat= 276.28 oC
TSH= TB – TEV2 = 276.28 -272 = 4.28 oC

4.7.3 Low-side float valves

The low-side float valve maintains a constant liquid level in a flooded evaporator or
a float chamber attached to the evaporator. When the load on the system increases,
more amount of refrigerant evaporates from the evaporator. As a result, the
refrigerant liquid level in the evaporator or the low-side float chamber drops
momentarily. The float then moves in such a way that the valve opening is
increased and more amount of refrigerant flows into the evaporator to take care of
the increased load and the liquid level is restored, Fig.(4.16).
The reverse process occurs when the load falls, i.e., the float reduces the opening of
the valve and less amount of refrigerant flows into the evaporator to match the
reduced load. These valves are normally used in large capacity systems and
normally a by-pass line with a hand-operated expansion is installed to ensure
system operation in the event of float failure. It controls the liquid refrigerant feed
to maintain a constant liquid level in the evaporator. As the liquid level in the
evaporator drops, the float ball moves downward and opens the float valve wider so
that more refrigerant is feed to the evaporator.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Fig.(4.16) Low-side float valve.

4.7.4 High-side float valves

Figure (4.17) shows the schematic of a high-side float valve. As shown in the
figure, a high-side float valve maintains the liquid level constant in a float chamber
that is connected to the condenser on the high pressure side. When the load
increases, more amount of refrigerant evaporates and condenses. As a result, the
liquid level in the float chamber rises momentarily. The float then opens the valve
more to allow a higher amount of refrigerant flow to cater to the increased load, as
a result the liquid level drops back to the original level. The reverse happens when
the load drops. Since a high-side float valve allows only a fixed amount of
refrigerant on the high pressure side, the bulk of the refrigerant is stored in the low-
pressure side (evaporator). Hence there is a possibility of flooding of evaporator
followed by compressor slugging. However, unlike low side float valves, a high-
side float valve can be used with both flooded as well as direct expansion type

Fig.(4.17) High side float valve.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

4.7.5 Electronic Type Expansion Valve

The schematic diagram of an electric expansion valve is shown in Fig.(4.18). As
shown in the figure, an electronic expansion valve consists of an orifice and a
needle in front it. The needle moves up and down in response to magnitude of
current in the heating element. A small resistance allows more current to flow
through the heater of the expansion valve, as a result the valve opens wider. A
small negative coefficient thermistor is used if superheat control is desired. The
thermistor is placed in series with the heater of the expansion valve. The heater
current depends upon the thermistor resistance that depends upon the refrigerant
condition. Exposure of thermistor to superheated vapor permits thermistor to self-
heat thereby lowering its resistance and increasing the heater current. This opens
the valve wider and increases the mass flow rate of refrigerant. This process
continues until the vapor becomes saturated and some liquid refrigerant droplets

Fig.(4.18): Schematic of an electronic expansion valve.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

The liquid refrigerant will cool the thermistor and increase its resistance. Hence in
presence of liquid droplets the thermistor offers a large resistance, which allows a
small current to flow through the heater making the valve opening narrower. The
control of this valve is independent of refrigerant and refrigerant pressure; hence it
works in reverse flow direction also. It is convenient to use it in year-round-air-
conditioning systems, which serve as heat pumps in winter with reverse flow. In
another version of it the heater is replaced by stepper motor, which opens and
closes the valve with a great precision giving a proportional control in response to
temperature sensed by an element.

Benefits of EXVs
 Precise How control over a wide range of capacities.
 Rapid response to load changes.
 Better control at low superheats.
 More surface for evaporation results in higher evaporating temperature and
better efficiency.
 The valve can close when the system shuts down, which eliminates the need
for an additional shut-off solenoid valve.
Signal from a suitable thermistor placed at the evaporator outlet will vary,
depending on whether it senses dry refrigerant gas or liquid traces. It can be used to
control the current through a thermal element to modulate the expansion valve.


The solenoid valve is used in refrigeration machine to separate high pressure side
from low pressure side when the compressor is stopped. When gas defrosting is
used, solenoid valves are fitted in the refrigeration circuit to reverse refrigerant
flow. Solenoid valve is simply an electrically operated valve consisting of an
electromagnetic coil which when energized draws a plunger which opens the valve
port. Closing action is achieved by gravity when the coil is de-energized, Figure
Solenoid valves control the refrigerant flow in liquid line feeding the evaporators
are thermostatically activated. Solenoids vary according to permitted pressure
differences across the valve, drop in pressure through the valve, the desired flow
rate and the state of the circulating fluid.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4.19) Solenoid Valve.

The valves can be direct acting or pilot operated. Small solenoid valves are usually
direct acting; they are fitted in small diameter pipes and their power demand is low,
about 15 W. Pilot-operated solenoid valves are used in large-diameter pipes as the
pressure differences across the valve provide the force to carry out the closing and
opening actions.
Solenoid valves are simple and robust, and their functioning is generally reliable
and accurate as they usually operate in an on-off mode. They have some
drawbacks. They are not gastight, particularly for large pipe sections. Their most
usual failure is coil breakdown, which is not foreseeable so it is impossible to
detect during maintenance operations. Unless they are vapor-tight condensation of
water vapor on their cold side may occur, particularly when they are installed in
rooms with high humidity and working in medium-temperature conditions.

4.9 Control Valves

Control valves and control dampers are the two primary means to control the flow
of water and air in HVAC systems. This chapter explains how these devices work
and how they are selected and sized.

4.9.1 Two-way Control Valves

The control valve is the most important component of a fluid distribution system
because it regulates the flow of fluid to the process under control. In HVAC
systems, control valves are primarily used to control the flow of chilled water, hot
water and condenser water. Control valves may be either two-way (one pipe in and
one pipe out) which act as a variable resistance to flow or three-way (two pipes in
and one out for mixing valves – one pipe in and two out for diverting valves) as
depicted in Figure (4-20).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4-20) Two and Three-way Valves.

Three-way valves may be either mixing (two flow streams are merged into one) or
diverting (a single flow stream is broken into two), as shown in the figure. With all
three configurations shown, the valves modulate flow through the cooling or
heating coil to vary the capacity of the coil. With the two-way configuration, flow
through the circulation system is variable.
In the three-way configurations, flow remains relatively constant through the
loop which includes the pump and varies in the loop containing the coil. These
are often used in chilled water cooling systems where the chiller often requires

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

a constant flow. In other systems it may be constant flow in the coil is important,
perhaps to prevent freezing, In this case the pump can be in the coil loop. Control
valves typically come in three valve styles: globe, butterfly, and ball. The globe-
type valve has been the most common for many years, but the characterized ball
valves are becoming very popular and are starting to become a significant part of
the working marketplace. Below 50 mm size, they have usually sweat (soldered) or
screwed connections, while above 50 mm they are typically flanged.

4.9.2 Control Dampers

Dampers are to air as valves are to water: a means of controlling airflow. Many of
the design and selection principles are the same for both. Like valves, dampers
must be carefully selected and sized to ensure stable and accurate control. They are
used to direct or modulate flow. They may be round, rectangular, or even oval, to
suit the duct. Round or oval dampers are almost invariably single blade with a
central axle. Rectangular dampers are usually made in sections, with individual
blades 150 to 200 mm wide linked together to move in unison, Fig.(4.21).

Figure (4.21) Triple V and Airfoil Dampers.

Dampers for HVAC work are normally made of galvanized steel or extruded
aluminum. Aluminum is preferred on outdoor air intake dampers due to its
resistance to oxidation. Other materials are available, such as stainless steel, for use
in corrosive atmospheres in industrial facilities. Frames and blades must be heavy
enough to operate without warping or twisting. Shaft bearings should be
permanently lubricated bronze, stainless steel or PTFE to minimize friction.
Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Blades come in three common shapes: a flat, one-piece (single metal sheet) blade; a
single-skin blade with a triple-v-groove shape; and a double-skin airfoil-shaped
blade. The triple V and airfoil blades are shown in Figure (4.20) with external
linkages. The face area of the damper is F1 by F2 and frame depth is D. Blade
width is typically about the same as the frame depth. The flat blade is typically
used only for single-blade dampers in round and oval ducts. The latter two blade
types are used in rectangular dampers. The more expensive air foil shape reduces
pressure drop and noise caused by turbulence as air passes over the blades. The
triple-v-groove blade is typically rated only up to 10 m/s, and possible noise
problems must be considered above about 7.5 to 8.5 m/s.
Blades are made to overlap and interlock for tight closure. To reduce leakage, a
compressible sealing strip may be attached to the blade edges. The material used
varies from inexpensive foam rubber to longer-lasting silicone rubber or extruded
vinyl. The seals can significantly modify the damper performance particularly as
the damper nears fully open and fully closed. Jambs (where the blades align on
each side with the frame) may also be sealed to reduce leakage, typically by using a
compressible metal or vinyl gasket. Leakage through a standard damper may be as
high as 250 L/s per m2 at 250 Pa pressure. Low leakage dampers (usually use air-
foil blades) leak as little as 50 L/s per m2 at 1,000 Pa pressure. Shut-off dampers
that are normally used in HVAC systems are low leakage type, which usually leak
around 10 L/s per m2 at 250 Pa. Leakage of air through dampers causes false
control readings resulting in poor control of the controlled variables. Leakage also
causes energy waste and ultimately money. A leakage of 20 L/s per m2 is an ultra-
low leak damper and a 50 L/s per m2 is a low leakage damper. The ultra-low
leakage requirements are for places with very high cooling loads or cold air
infiltration challenges.
Linkages are required on multi-blade dampers to make the blades open and close in
unison. On marginally less expensive dampers, the linkage is attached directly to
the blades, exposed to the air stream as shown in Figure (4.20). On marginally
more expensive dampers, linkages are concealed in the frame and typically involve
rotating the shaft through the blade. Keeping the linkage out of the air stream
reduces pressure drop and minimizes the effects of corrosion. It also provides a
higher strength interconnection between blades, which provides for a better seal
when dampers are closed, particularly after the damper has aged and blades begin
to stick. Exposed linkages under these conditions tend to cause the blades to bend
and warp so that they will not close tightly, Fig.(4.22).

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4.22) Typical Multi-blade Dampers (linkage in the airstream).

Dampers should be stroked open and closed as a periodic maintenance function.

Actuators for dampers should be oversized as, with age, the dampers can become
harder to open and close. Periodic maintenance of dampers and their linkages is
very important to continuing proper operation. Damper systems that do not move
frequently should have a periodic testing and verification of movement at least
semi-annually. For multiple blade dampers, blade movement may be parallel or
opposed, as shown in Figure (4.21). With parallel blade operation, the blades rotate
in the same direction so that they stay parallel to each other throughout the stroke
from fully open to fully closed. With opposed blade dampers, the direction of
rotation alternates every other blade. These two arrangements have different
operating characteristics, a factor in damper selection as discussed in the next
section. Operating characteristics of single blade dampers fall somewhere between
those of multiple parallel and opposed blade dampers.
Damper motors (also called operators or actuators) must have sufficient power to
move the dampers from the closed position, where maximum friction occurs, to
fully open. Linkages are sometimes used to couple the dampers to the actuators.
When used in modulating applications, the damper motor must be able to modulate
the dampers smoothly through small increments. Low leakage dampers typically

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

require larger operators to overcome the friction of the jamb seals, and parallel
blade dampers typically require larger operators than opposed blade dampers.
Manufacturers rate operator torque in Nm. They also provide the torque data for
their dampers in terms of Nm per square meter of damper area. For example, the
requirement for a particular damper could be for 10 N.m / m2 with a minimum
torque of 25 N.m. The minimum torque is to deal with the load when getting the
damper moving against the friction of the seals. As a general rule, dampers and
their actuators should be set up for normally open operation. If power is lost, the
damper will open and allow its flow to pass until repairs can be made to its
automatic operation. The exception to this would be dampers protecting coils from
freezing, and dampers guarding dangerous, hazardous waste, or isolation systems.

4.10 Capillary Sensors

The bulb-and-capillary sensor (Figure 4-23) utilizes a temperature-sensitive fluid
contained in a bulb with a capillary connection to a chamber with a flexible
diaphragm. A change in temperature will cause a volume change in the fluid,
which will cause the diaphragm to deflect. With the proper linkages, this can be
used for either two-position or modulating control, in electric, electronic, or
pneumatic systems.

Figure (4-23) Capillary Sensors

It is sometimes called a remote bulb sensor and is usually provided with fittings
suitable for insertion into a duct, pipe, or tank. Averaging bulbs, where the
temperature sensitive element is extended to sense more than a single point, are
used where stratification is expected (such as after outdoor air/return air mixing

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Capillaries can be made to be temperature compensated to minimize the effect of

the atmosphere through which the capillary passes. This is done by using two
dissimilar metals for the capillary, one on the outside (usually stainless steel) and
another metal on the inside, with the sensing fluid in between.
The materials are selected so that the differential coefficient of expansion of the
two metals exactly equals the coefficient of expansion of the sensing fluid. Thus, as
the capillary expands and contracts due to changes in ambient temperatures, it
makes room for the fluid as it expands and contracts at the same rate. In this way,
the ambient temperature changes do not affect the fluid pressure signal. The sealed
bellows sensor (no figure shown) uses a similar principle. The bellows is filled with
a gas or liquid with a high thermal expansion coefficient. Temperature changes
cause the bellows to expand and contract, which can be measured to indicate
temperature changes or can be used directly to move a controlled device,

Figure (4-24) Thermistor Characteristic.

4.11 Air Flow Meter

An example of an air flow meter is shown in Figure (4-25). Pitot tube sensors (see
Figure (4-26) are commonly used to measure the speed of aircraft. They are also
used very commonly for measuring both air and water flow in HVAC applications.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

The differential pressure in Equations 4-1, 4-2, and 4-3 in this case is the difference
between the total and static pressures, a quantity called the velocity pressure. As
can be seen in Figure 4-36, the inner tube senses total pressure of the fluid, which
due to the static pressure plus the force exerted by the fluid’s velocity, called the
velocity pressure. The outer tube has openings in the sides, which are not impacted
by the fluid flow and therefore sense only static pressure. The difference between
the two is used in Equations 4-1, 4-2, and 4-3 to determine fluid velocity. In an
ideal pitot tube, the C coefficient is a constant regardless of geometry.

Figure (4-25) Air Flow Meter.

For air flow at standard density, velocity may be calculated from the pitot tube
velocity differential pressure as:

…………………………………………………………………………….. (4-3)

Where P is measured in Pa and V is measured in m/s.

Figure (4-25) shows an air flow measuring station (FMS) commonly used in duct

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4-26) Air Flow Measuring Station

4.12 Duct Smoke Detector

Fire and Smoke Detectors. Fire or smoke detection instruments are required in most
air handling systems by Code. Fire-stats (switches sensitive to high temperatures)
are used mostly in small systems (under 100 l/s), while some codes generally
require smoke detectors in larger systems at main return air and/or supply air ducts.
The exact position required for the detector varies with different building codes.
Some codes require that detectors be placed in the return air stream before air is
mixed with outdoor air to sense smoke being generated in the spaces served by the
system. Others call for the detector to be placed downstream of the fan and filter to
prevent recirculation of smoke from almost any source (such as from a filter fire or
from the outdoors). A duct-type smoke detector is shown in Figure (4-27).
Note the sampling tubes required in the duct. These are arranged to extract an air
sample from the duct through the longer, upstream tube and then return it through
the shorter tube. The upstream sampling tube has ports much like a pitot type
flow sensor. To function, a minimum velocity must be maintained, generally
at least 1.5 to 2 l/s and preferably higher.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

Figure (4-27) Duct Smoke Detector.

Smoke detectors are available using primarily two detection technologies:

Photoelectric and ionization. The photoelectric detector is sensitive to larger
particles but not to fine particles (less than about 0.1 microns). The ionization
detector is sensitive to these fine particles but less sensitive to large particles.
Because most air filters are efficient in capturing large particles, the ionization
detector is the most appropriate type for use in supply duct systems downstream of
filters. As smoke moves away from the fire source, smoke particles tend to
agglomerate into larger particles. Therefore, the photoelectric detector may be the
more appropriate type to use for return or exhaust duct installations, although both
styles are common.
In most cases, smoke detectors and fire-stats simply shut down the air system either
directly, by hard-wiring the detector to the fan start circuit , or indirectly by
signaling the detection of smoke to a fire alarm system which, in turn, initiates fan
shut-down through fire alarm remote controlled relays. If the air system is designed
as a smoke control system, then the smoke detector might initiate a smoke control
sequence; the exact sequence will vary depending on the design of the system.
Smoke control performed as a part of the HVAC control systems is very cost
effective and efficient. Smoke detectors are typically furnished as a part of the fire
alarm system, but sometimes we are able to monitor its status through auxiliary
contacts in the detector.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

4.13 High Pressure Cut-Out Switch

In refrigeration system, the high-pressure cut-off switch is a control device which is
used as safety control. The compressor is stopped by cutting the power supply of
the motor of the compressor whenever the discharge pressure of the compressor
becomes excessive. This is necessary to prevent the possible damage of equipment.
When the pressure in discharge line raise above a certain limit of pressure, high-
pressure control device operates and stops the compressor by cutting the power
supply given to the motor input.

Fig.(4-28) High Pressure Cut-Out Switch

4.14 Low Pressure Cut-Out Switch

The low-pressure cutout switch is also known as a suction pressure control switch. It is
the control that causes the compressor to go on or off as required for normal operation
of the refrigeration plant, Fig.(4.28). This switch is connected to the suction side of the
compressor and is actuated by pressure changes in the suction line. When
the solenoid valves in the lines to the various evaporators are closed so that the flow of
refrigerant to the evaporators is stopped, the pressure of the vapor in the compressor
suction line drops quickly. When the suction pressure has dropped to the set pressure,
the low-pressure cutout switch causes the compressor motor to stop. When the
temperature in the refrigerated spaces has risen enough to operate one or more of the
solenoid valves, refrigerant is again admitted to the cooling coils, and the compressor
suction pressure builds up again. At the desired pressure, the low-pressure cutout
switch closes, starting the compressor again and repeating the cycle.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element


An oil failure switch is provided with high-speed compressors. This differential

pressure switch is designed to prevent operation of the compressor in the event of low
oil pressure. The switch has one bellows connected to the discharge oil line of the
compressor oil pump and the other connected to the compressor crankcase suction
refrigeration pressure. The switch is set to open the electrical circuit and to stop the
compressor when the oil pressure drops to a low-pressure set point. The switch closes
the electrical circuit and starts the compressor when the oil pressure reaches the reset
set point.

To start the compressor after it has been stopped and the contacts of the oil failure
switch have opened, a time delay mechanism works in conjunction with the
compressor motor controller. The time delay switch should open 10 to 30 seconds
after the compressor motor has started. The oil pressure will normally build up within
this time interval. The oil pressure switch will have made contact to keep the
compressor motor electrical circuit energized after the time delay switch opens. If the
oil pressure has not built up within about 30 seconds after the compressor is started,
the contacts of the oil pressure differential switch will not have closed. The
compressor will stop because the time delay relay switch is open, Fig.(4.29).

Fig.(4.29) Oil Failure switch.

Chapter (4): Primary Control Element

4.16 Relay
A relay is an electrically operated switch. Many relays use an electromagnet to
mechanically operate a switch, Fih.(4.30), but other operating principles are also
used, such as solid-state relays. Relays are used where it is necessary to control a
circuit by a separate low-power signal, or where several circuits must be controlled
by one signal. The first relays were used in long distance telegraph circuits as
amplifiers: they repeated the signal coming in from one circuit and re-transmitted it
on another circuit. Relays were used extensively in telephone exchanges and early
computers to perform logical operations.

Fig.(4.30) Relay.