An evaporative condenser uses the evaporation of water spray on the outer surface of the condensing tubes to remove the latent heat of condensation of refrigerant during condensation.

An evaporative condenser consists of a condensing coil, a subcooling coil, a water spray, an induced draft or sometimes forced draft fan, a circulating water pump, a water eliminator, a water basin, an outer casing, and controls.

The condensing coil is usually made of bare copper, steel, or sometimes stainless steel tubing. Water is sprayed over the outside surface of the tubing. The evaporation of a fraction of condenser water from the saturated air film removes the sensible and latent heat rejected by the refrigerant.

The wetted outer surface heat transfer coefficient hwet is about four or five times greater than the dry surface heat transfer coefficient ho, in Btu/hr.ft2.°F. The rest of the spray falls and is collected by the basin.

Air enters from the inlet just above the basin. It flows through the condensing coil at a face velocity of 400 to 700 fpm, the water spray bank, and the eliminator. After air absorbs the evaporated water vapor, it is extracted by the fan and discharged at the top outlet.

The water circulation rate is about 1.6 to 2 gpm/ton, which is far less than that of the cooling tower.

An evaporative condenser is actually a combination of a water-cooled condenser and a cooling tower. It is usually located on the rooftop and should be as near the compressor as possible.

Clean tube surface and good maintenance are critical factors for evaporative condensers. An evaporative condenser also needs low ambient control similar as in an air-cooled condenser.

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