A heat exchanger is a vital component of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit. Though there are different forms of heat exchangers, the most crucial part that impacts the AC functioning is the metal encompassing the heat exchanger. The metal piece transfers heat between fluids in the AC system. Manufacturers can choose metals to design heat exchangers from the numerous available options, including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, titanium, bronze, and carbons steel. Most heat exchanger designers use copper and stainless steel due to their desirable features. Both materials are highly effective and cheaper than other alternatives. But, most individuals’ hardest decision is whether to buy stainless or copper cold plate heat exchangers. You need to consider aspects like thermal conductivity, resistance to sag, cost, and mechanical strength when selecting the ideal material between copper and stainless steel.
Why do manufacturers design a copper heat exchanger?
Choosing suitable materials for heat recovery coils and refrigeration units is vital to guarantee excellent performance. Copper is a suitable material for heat exchangers due to many reasons. Read below to know the pros of using copper in heat exchangers.
Heat exchangers require metals with higher thermal conductivity to transfer heat quickly from the heating source to the distributing fluid. A heat exchanger made from copper transfers heat faster than one with stainless steel. Thermal conductivity is measured in watts per meter pre-Kelvin. While copper has up to 401 thermal conductivity, stainless steel’s value is less than 20. On average, copper’s thermal conductivity is 20 times that of stainless steel, meaning heat passes through copper 20 times faster than steel. Copper atoms have a close lattice arrangement that vibrates more with increased temperature, resulting in internal heat transfer. Water heaters with copper heat exchangers are ideal if you require quick heating. Moreover, higher thermal conductivity leads to higher efficiency. Heaters operating for longer hours to heat your room or pool will increase your energy costs. So even though you may not want quick heating, you will want to minimize energy use.
Copper has a higher melting point than stainless steel, making it ideal for high heat applications such as boiler heat exchangers.
Cost of a copper heat exchanger
Copper heat exchangers are way cheaper than stainless steel equipment. Most heat exchange designers encourage individuals to buy heat exchangers with copper because they are less expensive. If you are considering heat exchangers for short term use, copper heat exchangers are ideal.
Resistance to environmental corrosion
Although copper does not resist corrosion naturally, some companies have designed alloy compositions that make copper resistant to oxidation when exposed to seawater. Alloy compositions form oxide layers that protect the copper from rust.
Remember, durability is a major concern for heat exchangers in boilers and other appliances. Condensing boilers produce corrosive condensate that eats away heat exchangers’ metals. Materials that cannot withstand the condensate will corrode quickly, leading to costly repairs. Therefore, you will want to buy heat exchangers that are corrosion resistant to increase the lifespan and ensure maximum efficiency.
Copper has a higher melting point and higher thermal conductivity. Moreover, it is less expensive and resists corrosion; thus, ideal for heat exchangers.