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  1. #1

    Spine Fin versus vs. copper/aluminum coil Heat Pump Coil...

    I was told that the copper/aluminum coil on the Payne heat pump is much better than the Spine Fin system one my old Trane Heat Pump.

    He said that the fin spine is the old system and is less efficient than the new copper aluminum on a Payne.
    Is this true?

    Is there a difference?
    Is one better than the other?
    Is it a notable Functional Feature?


    (This discussion is about the type of coil only, the rest of the heat pump should be excluded here.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,049
    Some Trane's hit 20 SEER with Spine Fin. It is a patented system so while a couple have tried their own versions, this design is the only one still in use after nearly 50 years. Does require a large coil but leaks are very rare and they hold dust better before restricting airflow. Also great around salty environments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    50
    The most efficient designed coil for a condenser in straight A/C is a micro channel. However, when they are used as a heat pump they cause several issues, with the two biggest being water shed and the other refrigerant distribution. There are some micro channel coil manufactures that have improved but not eliminated these issues. Anex 33 is doing a lot of research in the area of micro channel and heat pumps.

    If the coil is designed correctly both spine fin and enhanced tube and fin are equal under lab conditions. Spine fin can be damaged very easily and does collect a lot of contaminants from the air. Proper maintenance will take care of that issue.

    I would think the bigger difference between the two is the material of the tubing.
    The Trane coils are all aluminum which theoretically should have better thermodynamic performance vs. copper tube aluminum fin. I personnel have not read any lab results to either prove or disprove this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Gibbsboro,NJ
    Posts
    1

    Spine Fin

    The reply from BaldLoonie is dead on......in addition to his reply, the reason the Spine Fin holds up so well in the salt environment is because of it being made of just one material (just aluminum).....when aluminum and copper are exposed to salt air "galvanic action occurs" and the plate fin coil deteriorates at a much faster rate. The trane coil also has much less "loading" of dirt and debris, and studies show that it cleans up much better than a plate fin coil. The coils seldom leak, but if a leak is found it can be repaired with a splice kit that you can purchase from your local Trane distributor. Trane holds an exclusive patent on the manufacturing of this coil that goes back to the old G.E. days of over 50 years. Speaking of G.E., I found three G.E. "Executive" model Heat Pumps running just fine at a local bank yesterday.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    50
    @ the Tran web page you can watch a vid of the spine coil getting produced. An aluminum tube coil is also less likey to leak from formicary corision caused by POEs in the 410A

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    S.E. Missouri
    Posts
    258
    To save a few pages arguing, Spine Fin is bad, microchannel is bad, copper/aluminum fin is bad. Cottonwood is bad. Don't use misters on your coils

    Sorry for the rant.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    Quote Originally Posted by Silver06 View Post
    To save a few pages arguing, Spine Fin is bad, microchannel is bad, copper/aluminum fin is bad. Cottonwood is bad. Don't use misters on your coils

    Sorry for the rant.

    Then what's good? Aren't we running out of options? Or are you just being sarcastic?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Outside The Motor City
    Posts
    666
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveTrane View Post
    The reply from BaldLoonie is dead on......in addition to his reply, the reason the Spine Fin holds up so well in the salt environment is because of it being made of just one material (just aluminum).....when aluminum and copper are exposed to salt air "galvanic action occurs" and the plate fin coil deteriorates at a much faster rate. The trane coil also has much less "loading" of dirt and debris, and studies show that it cleans up much better than a plate fin coil. The coils seldom leak, but if a leak is found it can be repaired with a splice kit that you can purchase from your local Trane distributor. Trane holds an exclusive patent on the manufacturing of this coil that goes back to the old G.E. days of over 50 years. Speaking of G.E., I found three G.E. "Executive" model Heat Pumps running just fine at a local bank yesterday.
    I agree with one exception,dust o.k. cottonwood seeds nooooooot!
    NO Brains NO Headaches

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    S.E. Missouri
    Posts
    258
    Quote Originally Posted by motoguy128 View Post
    Then what's good? Aren't we running out of options? Or are you just being sarcastic?
    I guess sarcastic. Every time this question comes up, it gets people into a peeing match over which coil is best.

    Almost like a Goodman versus (insert brand here) match

    Also, some use a torch to lightly burn off the cottonwood, others don't. Some use the repair kits with great success, others don't. Some will gripe about triple row plate style, others about easily bending spines, Microchannel for above mentioned.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Alberta Canada
    Posts
    2,246

    I don't recall

    That many of the Carrier condensing coils leaking in the past years. I don't chase leaks in condensors anymore on any unit, but I honestly can say not to many Carrier leakers.
    Do it right the first time.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Booneville, Mississippi, United States
    Posts
    259

    spinefin is good

    During our time as a trane dealer and do this day, we havent had 1 spine fin coil leak on us due to manufacturer defects. I will also say this, the price difference between the trane and the payne (carrier lite), doesnt justify the upgrade. I have seen carriers and icp roll across the lines and the processes they use are top notch.

  12. #12

    Thank you for your informative responses except silver06

    Actual information is what I need. Rants from people just wanting attention I can get next to the dumpster behind the local liquor store.
    I had a Trane heat pump which did not have a leak, an electrical item failed and the Keebler Elves sent out by the Warranty company could not figure out how to fix it in over 4 weeks.

    Finally I sent them a demand letter, certified and they had the elves come and replace it with a Payne PH13.

    It began to rattle once they got it started and I was told to get a couple of brick from Home Depot and set them on top to quiet it down. The vibration is so strong that I can feel it in the house.
    The old unit did not vibrate or rattle.

    I had a Trane Weathertron Elite.
    The cabinet was all metal and solid. Quiet and worked great until the timer/ something went out.

    Now I have a rattling, noise maker that seems like it was built by Yugo.
    Though, Yougos might be sturdier.

    Their contract states that they will replace with similar features, efficiency and capacity but not similar brand, dimension or color.

    So I want to find out if this is a feature on the replacement.
    I'm not sure it is worth the trouble so I want to know how important it is.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Location:Raleigh NC
    Posts
    9,612
    I don't find spines as easy to clean but that's just me.

    Never found any problems with spines.
    If you help others then you are a Success

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