Chillers are an enormous cost for Power Cool, both for first costs and operation expenses. They use tremendous amounts of energy and require regular maintenance. For maintenance and engineering managers who are not intimately aware of their organization’s chiller performance, maintenance and cost data, chillers can appear outlandishly expensive. But in-depth knowledge about an facility’s chiller maintenance and operation can help control chiller expenses and make decisions on chiller replacement easier.
Changes in refrigerant supplies also are causing managers to rethink chiller replacement time lines. However, most managers should decide when to replace a chiller by assessing maintenance and cost data and by reviewing the benefits gained by upgrading to chillers that use the latest generation of refrigerants.
Tom Heck, director of plant operations at King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., recently faced just such a decision. The center’s growth required plant expansion, so, armed with the data gleaned from maintenance logs and operation expenses, and mindful of refrigerant phaseout considerations, Heck was equipped to specify a chiller that best suited his organization’s expansion.
Performance and Operation Logs
TThe basis for many decisions regarding chiller maintenance and replacement decisions is chiller performance data. Heck says his staff regularly records the loads and amperages of his operation’s chilled-water system.
Every maintenance and engineering department should undertake such practices, says James Piper, a consultant with more than 25 years of experience in maintenance, engineering and facility management. Technicians also should check and record power consumption, chilled-water supply and return temperatures, chiller current, water flow, and condenser-water supply and return temperatures. With this data, managers can gain a rudimentary but accurate sense of chiller efficiency.
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