Expansion Valves – What Does and Doesn’t Matter?

Author: Bryan Orr
Original Air Date: April 11, 2024
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This podcast features a lively discussion on expansion valves, particularly thermostatic expansion valves (TXVs or TEVs), with a panel of expert guests – Corey Cruz (a market refrigeration tech), Matthew Taylor (head of refrigeration service at Kalos), and Joe Shearer (with Precision Air Conditioning).

The conversation kicks off by busting some common myths surrounding expansion valves. The guests agree that minutiae like the precise clocking (rotational orientation) of the sensing bulb or whether it’s mounted horizontally or vertically tend to be overemphasized. The key is ensuring good thermal contact between the bulb and refrigerant line.

They dive into the operating principles of an expansion valve, explaining how it’s essentially a balanced system of forces between the inlet (liquid) pressure, the outlet (suction) pressure, the pressure in the sensing bulb corresponding to superheat, and the adjustable spring force. Getting the superheat dialed in properly is crucial for efficient system operation.

The experts share valuable insights on best practices like avoiding heat damage during brazing, using the right valve for the application, not adjusting the valve unnecessarily, allowing stable operation before making adjustments, and considerations like external equalizers. Real-world examples and demonstrations with failed valve components illustrate the importance of proper installation and maintenance.

Topics covered include:

  • Common expansion valve myths and overemphasized factors
  • How an expansion valve works and the balanced forces involved
  • Superheat, hunting, and minimum stable superheat
  • Recommended bulb insulation practices for different applications
  • Proper bulb mounting, clamping techniques, and thermal contact
  • When and how to adjust the valve (or not)
  • Effects of plugged external equalizers and pressure drops
  • Selecting the right valve size and type (bleed vs hard shutoff)
  • Common installation errors like reverse flow direction
  • Troubleshooting tips for various systems and scenarios
  • Importance of airflow, load conditions, and other system factors


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