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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Fraser Valley
    Posts
    55

    Brand new to chillers- where to start???

    Hey guys,

    I recently got a position with a really great refrigeration company that does a lot of work with chillers. Aside from what they teach us in school here in BC I have never had any experience with even a small chiller, so I was hoping someone could steer me in the right direction for some good resources to help me start to get acquainted.

    I'm a member of RSES too so if any of you can recommend any good resources via them, Id appreciate that as well.

    Thanks a million in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Not in Iran
    Posts
    1,093
    Keep reading , listening, studying, ect., it will take time,
    no signature blast'em man blast'em
    !!!KILL THE TERRORIST!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Detroit, MI
    Posts
    67
    Hi there WestCoast...I too have somewhat recently gotten more focused on chiller work because the company I work for couldn't find a good chiller guy, so I decided to step to the plate. I am a journeyman, but with the different places I have worked, this is the first time I've gotten to really get into chillers on a regular basis and I've found it to be fun. My advice would do as milkyway suggested and read, read, read.

    The one thing that I have come to an understanding with is that the general principles of all chillers are the same, but how each company makes that happen is a little different. Documentation on the whatever chiller you may be working on is a must so you can understand specifically how it is supposed to operate, i.e. compressor operation, oil circuting, how the controller works on the unit, etc. I feel that chillers can be particularly simple, but the thing is that everything about them is usually expensive so being informed about their operation is a must. In my experience, generally when they go down it's usually from something fairly basic- plugged strainer on the condenser, air in the cooler piping, plugged oil filter, etc- but when you go in armed with the understanding of how it's supposed to work you'll find that it'll be easier to approach. I think if you search for "how a chiller works" you'll find stuff like water gets cold and the other loop gets warm, refrigerant moves and changes state and it all works. But if you want to know when the 2nd eductor line comes into operation on a York YS Mod A, you'd have to have the manual for the codepak control panel that chiller has on it. Understand what I mean?

    As for good resources- track down some general principle info on helical rotor (screw) compressors/chillers, centrifugal compressors/chillers and get an understanding of it. Then, once you have a chiller you'll actually be working on, grab the model # and get at least the IOM from the manufacturer's site and read and understand it. The key to it all (all service) is understanding what can and can't be causing the problem the equipment is having. I have found the IOM for the chillers I've worked on to be a huge source of info, then to get into specifics you may have to get info on the panel or starter.

    In general, if you find yourself not feeling confident with what you may think is wrong, research, ask questions- chillers aren't going to be like a 10t rtu that if you lost the charge it's only 15# of refrigerant, chances are it's going to be 500+# - don't just blindly make a decision and try it.

    Anyway, while there is a lot to learn about it all, I do feel if one masters the operating principles of a basic rtu, quite a bit of that understanding can be applied to chillers. It's how they get the result is what is different, and that can be radically different. Trying to understand all of it at one time is likely to be overwhelming, so just pick one system and try to work towards mastering it. If you do, then you'll find when you depart from that system then the next one won't be as overwhelming and you should be able to understand a good portion of it.

    Goodluck with trying to find your footing with this stuff- hopefully you have some live resource that you can depend on with your new job.

    Always ask the dumb questions, they are the most important.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Fraser Valley
    Posts
    55
    Quote Originally Posted by Cadrion View Post
    Hi there WestCoast...I too have somewhat recently gotten more focused on chiller work becuase the company I work for couldn't find a good chiller guy, so I decided to step to the plate. I am a journeyman, but with the different places I have worked, this is the first time I've gotten to really get into chillers on a regular basis and I've found it to be fun. My advice would do as milkyway suggested and read, read, read.

    The one thing that I have come to an understanding with is that the general priceples of all chillers are the same, but how each company makes that happen is a little different. Documentation on the whatever chiller you may be working on is a must so you can understand specificly how it is supposed to operate, i.e. compressor operation, oil circuting, how the controller works on the unit, etc. I feel that chillers can be particularly simple, but the thing is that everything about them is usually expensive so being informed about their operation is a must. In my experience, generally when they go down it's usually from something fairly basic- plugged strainer on the condenser, air in the cooler piping, plugged oil filter, etc- but when you go in armed with the understanding of how it's supposed to work you'll find that it'll be easier to approach. I think if you search for "how a chiller works" you'll find stuff like water gets could and the other loop gets warm, refrigerant moves and changes state and it all works. but if you want to know when the 2nd eductor line comes into operation on a York YS Mod A, you'd have to have the manual for the codepak control panel that chiller has on it. Understand what I mean?

    As for good resources- track down some general principle info on helical rotor (screw) compressors/chillers, centrifugal compressors/chillers and get an understanding of it. Then, once you have a chiller you'll actually be working on, grab the model # and get at least the IOM from the manufacturer's site and read and understand it. The key to it all (all service) is understanding what can and can't be causing the problem the equipment is having. I have found the IOM for the chillers I've worked on to be a huge source of info, then to get into specifics you may have to get info on the panel or starter.

    In general, if you find your self not feeling confident with what you may thing is wrong, research, ask questions- chillers aren't going to be like a 10t rtu that if you lost the charge it's only 15# of refrigerant, chances are it's going to be 500+# - don't just blindly make a decision and try it.

    Anyway, while there is a lot to learn about it all, I do feel if one masters the operating principles of a basic rtu, quite a bit of that understanding can be applied to chillers. It's how they get the result is what is different, and that can be radicly different. Trying to understand all of it at one time is likely to be overwhelming, so just pick one system and try to work twards mastering it. If you do, then you'll find when you depart from that system then next oe won't be as overwhelming and you should be able to understand a good portion of it.

    Goodluck with trying to find your footing with this stuff- hopefully you have some live resource that you can depend on with your new job.

    Always ask the dumb questions, they are the most important.

    Cadrion- Can't thank you enough bro. An awesome pitch on confidence to a guy like myself who's essentially in the same position you were in not too long ago. As far as live resources, the only way I would have taken my recent new position with any confidence is with the assurance of having such resources available. A great smaller company all with younger positive guys that have a passion for this industry and all have made CAREERS and not JOBS out of it.

    Again, your advice and info is kick-ass and I thank you dually for it. My main area of concern and source of nervous energy comes not from any lack of understanding my refrigeration basics and fundamentals, it's from only having seen screw and centrifugal compressors in school AND from not being able to tell you the main components of a chiller system if my life depended upon it.......Well Id PROBABLY be able to google something on the iphone or check my second year books in the van-LOL

    Thanks again, and I look forward to picking your brain and others as I begin to get my hands on some equipment in the 10 ton range and over- (FINALLY)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Appleton, Wi.
    Posts
    32
    Try not to get overwhelmed. I was in the same position two years ago, probably a little behind you even. Remember your basic principles, read unit manuals, and ask questions. A 700 ton centrifugal can be pretty intimidating, but just remember it does the same thing as the a/c in your house. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108




    Just like a big window unit, right? lol
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Detroit, MI
    Posts
    67
    Sorry, I can't leave this one alone....Let's see here: 2 compressors, an evaporator, some controls and a heavily restricted view of the condenser. i would guess this thing boils and condenses refrigerant. So, in a manor of speaking, yes, faily similar. That is a biggie though...Is that 4 comps on one barrell or 2 seperate chillers? About 750 tons per 2 compressors?

    My approach has always been to not think of things are "hard" or "impossible." I like to break them down and keep it simple. Sure, if you can't identify the components in that pic it's fairly intimidating, but if you can you start asking questions like "How is it controlled?" "What refrigerat is it?" vs "What is that?" That's what I've taught my apprentice and he's well on his way. I've been around a few people that took the intimidation approach, dind't really respond well to it and used it to support myself in learning.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108
    Some people have a vested interest in making this stuff seem a lot harder than it really is. The refrigeration cycle doesn't change much. Some refrigerants behave differently and operate at different temps and pressures. Sometimes you have an extra heat exchanger or a few extra valves, but the fundamentals remain unchanged.

    Those are 2 different chillers in the same plant. 1000 tons per circuit, 2000 tons per chiller. Low pressure duplex centrifugal, R-123.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Paper Street Soap Company
    Posts
    2,304
    Quote Originally Posted by Cadrion View Post
    Sorry, I can't leave this one alone....Let's see here: 2 compressors, an evaporator, some controls and a heavily restricted view of the condenser. i would guess this thing boils and condenses refrigerant. So, in a manor of speaking, yes, faily similar. That is a biggie though...Is that 4 comps on one barrell or 2 seperate chillers? About 750 tons per 2 compressors?

    My approach has always been to not think of things are "hard" or "impossible." I like to break them down and keep it simple. Sure, if you can't identify the components in that pic it's fairly intimidating, but if you can you start asking questions like "How is it controlled?" "What refrigerat is it?" vs "What is that?" That's what I've taught my apprentice and he's well on his way. I've been around a few people that took the intimidation approach, dind't really respond well to it and used it to support myself in learning.

    Been in the commercial industry for 20 years and yes the fundamental principles are the same but if you approach ANY chiller with any confidence that comes from the logic of "it's basically a window unit" and nothing else you will be on the road to making some very expensive and dangerous mistakes.

    Chiller maintenance comes with some very specific rules that if followed will insure some level of safety and equipment damage.

    A better approach is to keep an open mind, listen to a technician that has more experience than you and if you don't know something ask and never assume that because it's basic fundamental principles are the same as a window unit you can start flipping switches or turning knobs and valves.

    The amount of damage you can do and the associated cost can be astronomical.


    Just assume you know NOTHING about the big noisy machine in front of you and go from there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108
    Here's a view from the other side

    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108
    Quote Originally Posted by Six View Post
    Been in the commercial industry for 20 years and yes the fundamental principles are the same but if you approach ANY chiller with any confidence that comes from the logic of "it's basically a window unit" and nothing else you will be on the road to making some very expensive and dangerous mistakes.

    Chiller maintenance comes with some very specific rules that if followed will insure some level of safety and equipment damage.

    A better approach is to keep an open mind, listen to a technician that has more experience than you and if you don't know something ask and never assume that because it's basic fundamental principles are the same as a window unit you can start flipping switches or turning knobs and valves.

    The amount of damage you can do and the associated cost can be astronomical.

    Just assume you know NOTHING about the big noisy machine in front of you and go from there.
    The important thing to remember with any chiller; water cooled or air cooled, DX or flooded, is that they will freeze if they're not maintained and serviced correctly. That must be at the forefront of your brain with everything you do. "How can I do this without freezing the machine"?

    A freeze can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair, and sometimes it means a new chiller altogether. Some machines never fully recover from a failure like that. They will always have particulates and rust floating around in the system, and no amount of filtration can ever clean them up.

    Like six said, these things are expensive, and you must absolutely know what you are doing when you start turning knobs and valves. We started up a couple of 2500t machines not that long ago that were almost $2mil. a piece.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,295
    That's an interesting setup Rob. Never saw a chiller like that. Is that essentially two chillers connected as one? Curious to see the inside of something like that.

    Do the tubes run the whole length of the barrels or are there two seperate sets?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108
    Yes, it's a CDHF, which is basically 2 CVHFs welded together end to end. single pass counter-flow condenser and evaporator. Both circuits share tubes. The upstream circuit's leaving water is the downstream circuit's entering water.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

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