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engineers newsletter providing insights for todays

hvac system designer

blessing or curse? keeps the compressor more fully reliable operation by introducing
loaded while the evaporator satisfies problems stemming from insufficient
Hot Gas Bypass the part-load condition. Also, the
diverted vapor raises the suction
oil return and refrigerant logging in the
HGBP line. And in all cases, hot gas
temperature, which prevents frost bypass inflates the life-cycle cost of
Its not enough to deliver an HVAC from forming. the system:
system that meets the unique needs of HGBP increases the initial cost.
each application. The owner also For decades HGBP has been applied in
It requires an additional refrigerant line,
deserves a system that is the most direct-expansion refrigerant systems to
which also increases the likelihood of
reliable and the least costly to operate. control capacity at low loads. It was
refrigerant leaks and oil/refrigerant
In specific cases, adding hot gas probably conceived to correct a job-
bypass to the refrigeration system may specific problem but was subsequently,
be necessary in order to achieve all and indiscriminately, added to HVAC HGBP greatly reduces operating
three goals. But more often than not, systems as a preventive measure. efficiency because the bypassed vapor
the responsibility to deliver a reliable, does no useful cooling.
cost-effective system will preclude its The curse. True, HGBP has provided
HGBP costs more to operate. As
addition. Hot gas bypass has the frost control and some semblance of
the load fluctuates, the compressor
potential to modulate capacity or capacity control in many applications.
consumes more energy because its
improve reliability, but these benefits But numerous cases exist in which
forced to operate at a compression
will not be realized without careful HGBP either fails to safely stabilize the
step that is likely one stage higher
evaluation of its appropriateness and system or, worse still, undermines
than necessary.
painstaking attention to design,
installation, control, and maintenance. The blessing. Despite these
HGBP in chilled water
applications shortcomings, hot gas bypass can be
The success of an application with appropriate for cooling applications that
HGBP depends on unfailing diligence at Certain process cooling applications may
demand tight, continuous, thermal
every step. HGBP can be a blessing require hot gas bypass to match chiller
capacity to an instantaneous load. In such
controlparticularly if large amounts of
when it is warranted and effectively outdoor air, widely varying loads, or
cases, the system is designed to operate
implemented. In all other cases, HGBP excessive compressor on/off delays are
continuously and hot gas bypass
will be a curse. To understand why, lets neutralizes the refrigeration effect. involved. Most often these
briefly review what hot gas bypass characteristics describe process cooling
does and how it is applied. For comfort cooling, however, the addition rather than standard comfort cooling. If
of hot gas bypass is seldom necessary.
applied properly, HGBP can:
The objective. When diminishing Thats because a properly designed chilled
loads force a refrigeration system to water loop can provide an effective buffer Prevent excessive compressor
between system load and chiller capacity. cycling
operate at unstable conditions,
The key is to establish a loop time that
compressor and evaporator capacities equals the greater of two values: either Match system capacity to load
balance at ever lower suction pressures the minimum compressor off time for the
and temperatures. Unchecked, the last stage of cooling, or the minimum loop Allow the system to operate at safe
eventual result is coil frosting and time permitted by the chiller controller. balance points during unsafe loads
compressor flooding. You can accomplish this by changing the
design flow rate or by adding a tank.
Hot gas bypass can stabilize the The simplicity of this approach will
system balance point by diverting hot, benefit the owner, as will the operating- Application Considerations
high-pressure refrigerant vapor from cost savings. (A chilled water system Although it can be applied in
the discharge line directly to the low- without hot gas bypass requires less power refrigerant-to-water systems, comfort
pressure side of the system. This tactic than one that operates the compressors
cooling applications of hot gas bypass
with hot gas bypass.)

2003 American Standard Inc. All rights reserved Volume 32, No. 2
most often involve refrigerant-to-air Figure 1. Hot gas bypassed to evaporator inlet (preferred arrangement for HGBP)
evaporators. With countless
combinations of equipment and layouts
possible, how can you best and most
responsibly implement hot gas bypass?

Apply HGBP as a last resort. Only

use hot gas bypass if all other design
options fail to meet the demands of the
application. To make this determination,
it is critical to

Understand the year-round loads

and requirements of the system.
Most comfort cooling applications
can operate between steps of loading
without loss of temperature or humidity Keys to successful implementation: diameter as the riser. Add an oil-return line
control. Not only does this statement 1 Position the HGBP valve above the discharge 1 in. (25 mm) from the bottom of the trap; use
hold true between the third and fourth line, near the compressor. If the system tubing that is 1/8 in. (6 mm) and at least 5 ft
steps of cooling, when the outdoor includes pump-down, provide a means to shut (300 mm) long. Precharge the trap with oil.
latent load is high, but it also holds true off refrigerant flow.
5 Divert hot gas to each active distributor at the
for the step between off and first-stage 2 Pitch the line upstream of the HGBP valve to expected operating points for hot gas bypass.
cooling when the outdoor latent load drain oil back into the discharge line.
6 If the HGBP line feeds multiple distributors,
is comparatively low. 3 Pitch the line downstream of the HGBP valve provide a check valve for each distributor.
toward the evaporator, away from the valve.
7 Insulate the entire length of the HGBP line.
Choose the right arrangement. Hot
4 If the HGBP line includes a riser, regardless of
gas bypass is arranged in one of two height, provide a drain leg of the same
ways (see the comparison in Table 1,
p. 4); both require special care during
design and installation. 1 HGBP to the enough to prevent the compressor Select an evaporator coil that
evaporator inlet delivers hot refrigerant motor from overheating. can maintain a high suction
vapor between the expansion valve and temperature to permit the system to
the distributor (Figure 1). During HGBP Do not oversize the system. An aggressively stage down before a frost
operation, the expansion valve meters oversized system quickly meets the condition develops. In all cases, the
enough liquid refrigerant to both sensible load without satisfying the design should maximize the suction
desuperheat the bypassed vapor and latent load. Adding HGBP may mitigate temperature while maintaining the
satisfy the evaporator load. The this error but at the expense of desired conditions. For comfort cooling
resulting refrigerant flow rate is unnecessarily high power bills. applications, the minimum saturated
sufficient to carry oil through the coil suction temperature at design should
and suction line. Once again, understanding the year- be 43F to 45F for variable-volume air
round loads and properly sizing the distribution (VAV), or 40F to 43F for
HGBP to the suction line bypasses system to match them is paramount to constant-volume air distribution (CV).
both the condenser and the evaporator, providing thermal comfort (controlling
diverting hot vapor from the temperature and humidity) and Coils with intertwined circuits tend to
compressor discharge directly to the eliminating the need for HGBP. reduce the risk of coil frosting because
suction line (Figure 2). A liquid-injection they use more of the available fin
valve meters liquid refrigerant into the Select equipment with multiple-step surface (than face-split coils) at part-
stream of bypassed vapor, cooling it refrigerant circuits. The logic for load conditions. This allows the system
avoiding system oversizing also to operate at higher suctions and more
supports the choice of multiple-step reliable balance points.
refrigerant circuit(s) whenever possible.
For more information, see Hot Gas Bypass
Control (Trane publication AM-CON10) and the
The capacity of an unloading refrigerant
1998 ASHRAE HandbookRefrigeration. circuit will attempt to match a reduced
load at better balance points.

2 Trane Engineers Newsletter Vol. 32, No. 2

Figure 2. Hot gas bypassed to suction line this arrangement bypasses the
evaporator and part of the suction line,
the refrigerant flow rate upstream of
the HGBP point of entry may become
too low to move oil. To overcome this
limitation, restrict the maximum
amount of HGBP to a quantity that
maintains sufficient refrigerant velocity
for oil entrainment.

Note: If this design cannot be

accomplished, it is critical to assure
that oil drains freely from both the
evaporator and the suction line to the
inlet of the HGBP line. Failure to do so
will starve the compressor of oil and
shorten the life of the compressor.
Keys to successful implementation: 5 Site the suction-line HGBP connection
1 Position the HGBP valve above the discharge upstream of the pilot-line tap for the HGBP
Independent of which HGBP
line, near the compressor. If the system valve and at least 5 ft (1.5 m) upstream from the
arrangement is applied, the HGBP line
includes pump-down, provide a means to shut compressor inlet. Angle the connection into the
off refrigerant flow. suction flow. must connect to the top of both the
discharge line and the evaporator inlet
2 Pitch the line upstream of the HGBP valve to 6 Attach the remote bulb for the liquid-injection
(or suction line). Otherwise, a mixture
drain oil back into the discharge line. valve to the suction line, downstream of the
HGBP connection.
of oil and refrigerant will pour into the
3 Pitch the line downstream of the HGBP valve HGBP line, starving the compressor of
toward the suction line, away from the valve. 7 Provide a solenoid valve upstream of the liquid-
oil and causing a liquid slug when the
injection valve. Synchronize the operation of the
4 Assure that the evaporator and suction line
HGBP and liquid-line solenoid valves.
HGBP valve opens.
freely drain to the suction-line HGBP
connection. 8 Insulate the entire length of the HGBP line.
The refrigerant that collects in the
HGBP line also reduces the refrigerant
charge available to the system, which
Target the cooler, drier part of the
Line Design Considerations may lower the suction pressure.
thermal comfort envelope.
Ironically, the HGBP valve may respond
Compressor cycling usually isnt an
by opening and allowing bypass flow of
issue for comfort-cooling VAV or CV Make gravity work for you. A typical
hot gas. The repetitive, unstable
applications. But this strategy provides HGBP valve can infinitely vary the rate
operation and slugging that result make
more latitude for the space condition to of hot gas flow. The resulting
it critical to prevent this condition.
float during compressor staging refrigerant velocity can become so low
without sacrificing thermal comfort. that it traps oil in the HGBP line.
Select the appropriate pipe
Gravity then becomes the sole means
diameter. With HGBP lines, typically
Comply with local codes. ASHRAE/ for returning oil to the compressor. It is
smaller is better to promote oil
IESNA Standard 90.1, Energy Standard therefore critical to design the
movement; however, a design that
for Buildings Except Low-Rise refrigerant piping system so that all oil
allows gravity to purge any liquid from
Residential Buildings, precludes the (and condensed refrigerant) drains
the HGBP line lessens this
use of hot gas bypass for HVAC freely out of the HGBP line.
requirement. Size the line for a
systems larger than 7.5 tons unless
pressure drop of 6 psid to 20 psid.
they are designed with multiple steps Suction-line lift and the design of the
of unloading or continuous capacity evaporator coil particularly limit the use
Keep the HGBP line short.
modulation. The maximum amount of of HGBP to the suction-line. Because
Refrigerant vapor will condense in, and
HGBP allowed by the standard varies
fill any portion of, the HGBP line that is
with system size: 25 percent of total 2 Standard 90.1 (which excludes process colder than the saturated temperature
capacity for systems larger than applications and low-rise residential buildings)
grants an exception to systems smaller than of the suction or discharge gas.
20 tons, 50 percent for systems
7.5 tons. Be sure to consult the standard for Incidences (and consequences) of
ranging from 7.5 to 20 tons. 2
specific requirements.

providing insights for todays HVAC system designer 3

refrigerant condensation will increase Note: If the refrigeration system
with the length of the line, despite includes pump-down, make sure that
insulation. the HGBP system includes a means to
prevent refrigerant flow during the
Oil return also can be a problem in pump-down cycle.
properly designed HGBP lines because
the HGBP valve can reduce the flow of Add head-pressure control. Diverting compromise system performance
bypassed gas to nearly zerowell hot gas from the discharge line and and curse the owner with excessive
below the minimum flow rate needed around the condenser reduces the maintenance and power bills for years
to carry oil back to the compressor. head pressure of the air conditioning to come. That said, if HGBP best
Gravity will be very slow to bring the oil system. As head pressure decreases, addresses the demands of a particular
that deposits along the length of the operation may become unstable and application then specify it. If
HGBP line back to the compressor. The unreliable. To avoid this risk, include a implemented responsibly, HGBP will be
longer the HGBP line, the more oil it method for head pressure control in a blessing.
will collect. It is imperative to keep the every HGBP application.
oil charge in the system, not in the
HGBP line. By Paul Solberg, applications engineer,
and Brenda Bradley, information
Select an appropriate HGBP valve. designer, Trane.
A Final Caveat
There are two basic types of HGBP
valves: proportional and electronic. A Risk of oil and refrigerant logging is You can find this and other issues of
proportional, pressure-actuated HGBP inherent to hot gas bypass. Do not the Engineers Newsletter at http://
valve opens a set amount based on the assume that adding hot gas bypass to
difference between the valves suction- the job specification will improve newsletters.asp.
pressure setpoint and the actual reliability or enhance capacity
suction pressure. Generally, valves of modulation. Neither benefit of HGBP
this type require a pressure difference will be realized without meticulous
of 6 psig to open fully. Although this attention to the desired effect,
characteristic makes it difficult to component selection, and
maintain a specific suction pressure, a implementation. Anything less will
proportional HGBP valve can
satisfactorily maintain a suction-
pressure range that is equivalent to Table 1. Comparison of common HGBP arrangements
4F (saturated) suction temperature. Evaporator inlet (preferred; Figure 1, p. 2) Suction line (Figure 2, p. 3)
Advantages Advantages
By contrast, an electronic HGBP valve Merging the bypassed load with the system Less expensive to install because it requires less
can regulate bypass flow to maintain load in the evaporator helps the expansion piping, particularly if the condensing unit and
the desired suction pressure or valve maintain superheat control evaporator are far apart
discharge air temperature. If used in Sustains a higher gas velocity in the
conjunction with a supply-air- evaporator and suction line at low loads,
temperature control, optimize system enabling more reliable oil return
efficiency by coordinating the operation Disadvantages Disadvantages
of the HGBP valve and compressors. Installation cost is directly proportional to the Requires an additional liquid-line solenoid valve and
distance between the condensing unit and expansion valve
At low evaporator loads, refrigerant-gas velocity may
not be sufficient for adequate oil movement

Challenges the designer to slope the suction line in

two directions: toward the compressor during the on
cycle, toward the evaporator during the off cycle

A business of American Standard Companies
Trane believes the facts and suggestions presented here to be accurate. However,
For more information, contact your local district final design and application decisions are your responsibility. Trane disclaims
office or e-mail us at any responsibility for actions taken on the material presented.