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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Hockessin,DE
    Posts
    88
    Can someone point me to literature on this?
    Trane apparently uses Aluminum coils - not sure how many other manufacturers do this.
    Is one better than the other I'd imagine copper is better - but I don't have anything other than "costlier must be better" reasoning.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks
    -shaum

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,043
    Trane's Spine Fin dates back 45 years and has proven itself virtually leak free. Others have tried similar but dropped them. And others have made plate fin coils all aluminum. Bryant & Carrier were like that much of the 70s and 80s, worked fine. Now Trane has gone back to all aluminum indoor coil on their high end to reduce leaks. By not having 2 metals, copper tubing and steel end plates, you reduce corrosion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    11,808
    I prefer trane/american standard aluminum spine fin coils because I am in a salt corrosive environment. If I was not in the salt environment I would not have this preference.

    Dissimilar metals and an electrolyte such as salt and you get corrosion.

    You get complaints from some techs that the spine fin coils are difficult to clean, but you have other techs who have mastered how to clean them.

    My view is that it would take a lot more dirt and debris to plug the spine fin coil solid, than it would take to plug up a tube and fin coil.



    The way we build has a greater impact on our comfort, energy consumption and IAQ than any HVAC system we install.

    http://www.ductstrap.com/

  4. #4
    I think the jury is still out on this issue and won't be decided 'til there is some mileage on these coils.

    I'm still pushing copper.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Originally posted by shaum76
    Can someone point me to literature on this?
    Trane apparently uses Aluminum coils - not sure how many other manufacturers do this.
    Is one better than the other I'd imagine copper is better - but I don't have anything other than "costlier must be better" reasoning.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks
    -shaum
    Fully aluminum coils actually cost more to produce than traditional copper tube aluminum plate coils.

    If you are talking about the new aluminum indoor coils that Trane just released, they cost a LOT more to produce than regular coils, they are not even a plate fin design like the old aluminum coils Carrier used in some of thier air handlers.
    They are a brand new product, so there is no track record on them yet. I never saw one of the carrier coils leak in the aluminum part of the coil though. Well, I did see one, but it was on a heat pump that had a stuck contactor. It actually blew one of the crossover tubes off the aluminum indoor coil.
    The biggest problem with evaperator coils, and it is a problem EVERY manufacturer is having, is formicary corrosion of the copper tubes in evaperator coils caused by orgainic acids that form on the coil. The varrious compounds that mix together in the condensate to form the acids come from just about all the building products and furnishings in the home, so there isn't a lot we can do to get rid of the cause.
    The best way to deal with it is to use materials that suposedly won't be harmed by the acids. Aluminum just happens to be the most cost effective from a manufacturing standpoint, but still costs more to produce than traditional coils. Stainless steel coils would be even better, and have been available for special applications forever, but cost exponentially more.

    If you are talking about the coils in the outdoor unit, some like the aluminum spine fin coils because they stand up to harsh environments much better than copper tubed aluminum fin coils.
    Some don't like spin fin coils because they find them harder to clean.
    I personally find them very easy to clean.
    I suspect that as we move into the higher SEER equipment, we will see more and more split coils and coils with very tight fin spacing, wich are infinatly harder to clean properly than spine fin coils, Plate fin coils also dirty enough to significantly affect the operation of the system faster than spine fin coils.
    Since most of the heat transfere is on the leading edge of the condensor coils fins, spine fin coils can reject more heat per square foot than a plate fin coil because they have more leading edge on the spines. Because spine fin coils have so many spines, thus leading edge, a spine fin coil has to get much dirtier than a plate fin coil does before the operation of the system is significantly affected.
    Trane has produced some units in the past that had a double row spine fin coil that I absolutely hate, they are nearly impossible to clean properly. Fortunatly all of the currently produced spine fin coils are single row, wich is why some of the outdoor units are so huge.

    A down side is that spine fin coils are not able to support any weight, so the unit has to have good strong full metal cabinet. If you looks around though, you will find that more and more manufacturers are going to full metal cabinets to protect thier plate fin coils from damage too.
    FYI, plate fin coils behind louvered panes get dirty even faster, and are harder to clean than spine fin coils.

    Another drawback to spine fin coils is that it is hard to clean cottonwood seed out of them with just water, AS/Trane actually recommends not using coil cleaner. There is a trick that makes it very easy to clean cottonwood seed out of them though. Flash burn the stuff with a propane torch, then just wash the ash out of the coil.

    It would also be difficult to produce a spine fin coil that was open on one side, so the compressor ends up having poor access because it has to be down in the middle of the unit if you want to keep a reasonable size footprint for the unit.
    Imagin a 54" tall Trane XL19i with the footprint of a Rheem/Ruud unit.
    Wait, I don't have to imagin it, Rheem/Ruud are producing units that are almost there already. Great service access on them though!

    [Edited by mark beiser on 10-25-2005 at 08:40 PM]
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    11,808
    The aluminum evap coils are tube and fin?

    The way we build has a greater impact on our comfort, energy consumption and IAQ than any HVAC system we install.

    http://www.ductstrap.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    68,933
    Originally posted by Carnak
    The aluminum evap coils are tube and fin?

    Yep. Don't know why they can't do the spline thing there as well. My old GE window shakers has spline fin evap coils that do a hell of a job.

    Aluminum coils will develope leaks from damage a bit easier then copper will and must be mechanically coupled rather then brazed. Otherwise, aluminum and copper have the same thermal transfer properties.
    Government is a disease...
    ...masquerading as its own cure…
    Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV


  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    14

    Aluminum Coils

    It is good news to know that at least one and maybe more manufactures are working on the formicary corrosion issue on the evap coils. The formicary corrosion causing multiple champagne leaks on e-coils can appear quite quickly in the right enviroment. I've seen e-coils develope champagne leaks in as little as one to three years. I recently attended a Trane meeting and learned about the new aluminum coils just coming onto the market and hope that the new aluminum Trane coils are as good as some of those old Carrier aluminum coils that I sometime find on service calls.I, like another responder, have not found an aluminum coil leaking in the field yet but there are just not to many old aluminum coils to be found in the field either.There is one thing that I have noticed though with the more accelerated leaking e-coils and that is this: If you have a new or relitively new house with the laundry room and furnace room combined, the more smelly the room is with laundry detergent odor and other chemical cleaner odors along with the OSB floor sheeting then the faster the champagne leaks seem to develope. I have even heard that there could be quite a lot of different household cleaners and chemicles combined with the engineered building products in todays building industry that may all be combining to form an airborn cocktail that loves seems to love copper e-coils for lunch. I wonder how the body will respond to the cocktail blend?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Eastern PA
    Posts
    68,933
    Rather then dwelling on making coils that resist formicary corrosion, I think we need to be addressing the cause of this situation.

    There are more and more contaminants being put into our home air these days and by making our homes tighter built we are simply destroying our equipment and poisoning ourselves.

    I prefer to tell people to throw away their air fresheners and deoderant. If they smell that bad, they should wash.
    Government is a disease...
    ...masquerading as its own cure…
    Ecclesiastes 10:2 NIV


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    While your at it, have them toss out the carpet in favor of tile floors, get furnature made only of solid woods and natural uphustery, tile or cut stone counters, plaster walls instead of drywall, etc.
    Most of all, get rid of all but the most basic cleaning products, and stop cleaning so much.
    I'm not saying to let the place get nasty, but damn, some people are trying to keep thier place like an operating room.
    It is bad for the development of thier childrens immune systems for them to raise the kids in a steril environment anyway!(That doesn't go over so well with people, even though it is scientificly proven to be true.)
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Posts
    11,808
    A couple years back I posted some pictures of condensers with copper tubes and copper fins. The condensers were 4 years old at the time, and the coil was failing miserably.

    Now it could be that the tubes and fins were perhaps slightly different copper alloys, different enough to be dissimilar, or it could have been their proximity to an unusual over head electrical service, (actually 3 services), but I still am not sold on copper/copper coils.

    A recent resturant job here has a compressor rack system on its roof with copper frins and tubes. This restaurant is right on the coast, I would say that with respect to the horizontal distance, this elevated rack is 30 feet from the sea at the most.

    I will keep an eye on this one.

    I think the success of the spine fin is more than just aluminum tubes and aluminum spines.
    The way we build has a greater impact on our comfort, energy consumption and IAQ than any HVAC system we install.

    http://www.ductstrap.com/

  12. #12
    Getting a quote from a Trane dealer today and he told me 'there would be a delay because trane was switching out all their coils and going to all aluminum to prevent leaks.'

    I don't know if he was talking indoor or outdoor coils. It was for a heat pump and dual fuel kit.

    Dan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dothan, Al
    Posts
    3,453

    Small question...

    How do you repair the leaks in the aluminum coils. I mean, say you drilled a screw into one ( by accident, of course ), how do you repair it???
    I was changing a compressor years ago on an old carrier with aluminum condenser coil and the copper to aluminum joint broke. I tried several methods to repair ( including epoxy) to no avail - I had to change out the condenser - cost me $ 950.00 for the compressor - sat in my shop for years.
    Anyway, I dwell, just wanting to find out how to repair aluminum..

    THanks,
    Richard

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