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| TECHNOLOGY | 4-Way Reversing valves

4-Way Reversing Valves

Fitters Notes (Part 12)

Stephan Bachmann, In the last issue, we took a closer look at filter driers and sight glasses.
Danfoss Refrigeration & These two components are found in almost every commercial
Air Conditioning,
Offenbach refrigeration system above a certain capacity. This is not the case with
4-way reversing valves. This type of valve is used to completely reverse
the flow in a reversible system. Such valves may be used when both
heating and cooling modes are required, or to provide an effective,
energy-efficient defrosting method.

In the following description, we assume have a negative effect on the energy
that the small (pressure) port is facing efficiency of a refrigeration system,
up and the other three ports are facing while excessively small pressure drops
down. With this orientation, you can also can have undesirable effects, such as
see the small solenoid pilot valve with disturbing the stable operation of a servo
its coil. A standard 4-way valve has only solenoid valve. Both of these aspects can
two positions; there are no intermediate be regarded as less critical with 4-way
positions. In the first position, the coil of valves.
the solenoid pilot valve is not energised.
As a result, hot gas under high pressure
is fed from the small port’s pilot line
4-Way Reversing Valves (permanent pressure connection) from
the right into the slider mechanism’s
Construction chamber.
A 4-way reversing valve has four ports for
tube connections. Three of these ports At the same time, the pressure on the
are on one side, and the fourth is on the left side of the slider chamber is relieved
opposite side. The three copper tube as the gas flows out to the low-pressure
ports have a larger diameter than the side via the connection to the permanent
single port on the opposite side. suction port. As a result, the slider moves
to the left and opens the main paths from
The middle of the three large ports the top to the bottom right and from the
is permanently connected to the left to the middle. In the second position,
suction line, and the single small port is hot gas can flow from the top to the left, Functional diagram – coil energised
permanently connected to the pressure while suction gas can flow from the right
line. As the two remaining ports can be to the middle and down.
connected to the suction line or the
pressure line depending on the valve This is achieved by energising the coil of
position, because of pressure drops the solenoid pilot valve , which causes
they have the same dimensions as the high-pressure gas to be fed from the left
permanent suction line port. into the slider mechanism’s chamber. This
also allows the pressure on the right to
A 4-way valve also has a solenoid pilot be relieved via the middle main port at
valve with a coil, which changes the the bottom, which causes the slider to
direction of refrigerant flow when it is move to the right.

There are also small pilot lines running Pressure Drops and Dimensioning
from the small valve port to the solenoid Pressure drops are of fundamental 3D view – coil energised
pilot valve and back to the middle large importance for valve dimensioning.
port. Excessively large pressure drops usually

© Danfoss A/S (RA Marketing/SB/mwa), April 2009 1

| TECHNOLOGY | 4-Way Reversing valves

is safer to consult the relevant capacity wrapped around the valve to cool it
tables to check that the selected valve is during the soldering process. With this
sufficiently large. However, in most cases hurdle overcome, the 4-way valve is a
this check is not really necessary. component that will operate reliably for
the lifetime of a refrigeration system.

This type of valve is connected to the hot- Application
gas line as well as the suction line of the 4-way valves are used to reverse the
refrigeration system. The connections for circulation in reversible refrigeration
the two “permanent” lines, which means systems.
the line that is always the hot-gas line With this reversal, the evaporator
and the line that is always the suction becomes a condenser and the condenser
line, regardless of the position of the becomes an evaporator.
valve, are very easy to identify during This switchover is often used in systems
Functional diagram – coil not energised installation. such as split-unit air conditioners that
are used for cooling in the summer and
The hot-gas line coming from the heating in the transitional period. In
compressor is routed to the small port heating mode, these units operate as
of the 4-way valve. The suction line air-to-air heat pumps.
leading to the compressor is connected
to the middle of the three large ports. Another application arises from the
These two lines between the valve and desire for efficient defrosting. When the
the compressor always serve the same circulation is reversed in a reversible
function. In this regard, you must ensure system, the evaporator becomes a
that the external pressure compensation condenser and can be defrosted by
of an expansion valve is always connected internal heating. This means that the
to the permanent suction line, i.e. to the necessary heat is provided by hot gas
line leading away from the middle large pumped directly through the tubing
port of the 4-way valve. system where the frost has formed,
3D view – coil not energised instead of being provided by electric
If you ignore this rule, excessively high heaters in the evaporator module.
A very low pressure drop on the pressure pressure will be applied to the external
or suction side is not a problem with pressure compensation port, which This yields excellent defrosting results
a 4-way reversing valve because the will not only prevent the expansion and is practically unbeatable as regards
slider mechanism that controls the valve from operating properly (it will be defrosting time, energy consumption,
valve position is actuated by the kept closed with great force), but may and effective heat transfer.
pressure difference between the high- even cause permanent damage to the
pressure and low-pressure lines of the expansion valve. All that’s left now is
refrigeration system. the two outer large ports. Both of these Outlook
ports can temporarily be on the high- This completes our discussion about
This is possible because both pressures pressure or the low-pressure side. 4-way valves. In the next article, you
are directly available with this type of can read about another interesting
valve, which is generally not the case with family of components that are used
other types of valves used in conventional Installation specifically in water-cooled condensers:
dry-expansion refrigeration systems. As If the valve is installed using the standard Temperature and pressure controlled
a result, the actual pressure drop across soldering process (copper/copper solder water valves used for condensing
the valve, such as between the refrigerant joint with hard solder, such as Silfos 15), pressure regulation.
inlet and outlet of the suction line, is not please note the following: Real copper
critical for the operational reliability of stubs, which are usually present on valves
the valve. Excessive pressure drops are of this type, are very suitable for soldering
also not a significant issue with Danfoss to copper lines.
Saginomiya 4-way valves if, from a design
perspective, dimensions are based on Due to the excellent heat conduction
the size of the suction line. properties of copper and the close
fit of the slider mechanism parts, it is
If you select a 4-way valve based on this extremely important to prevent the
tube diameter, in the vast majority of valve body heating during the soldering
cases you will have a valve with a very process as much as possible. For this
moderate pressure drop. Of course, it purpose, a wet cloth should always be

2 © Danfoss A/S (RA Marketing/SB/mwa), April 2009