Replacing chillers is something typically avoided for as long as possible by engineering and maintenance managers. Chiller equipment is very expensive (most expensive piece of building equipment).
Chiller repair or chiller replacement can be very disruptive to other processes sometimes requiring piping systems to be replaced, removal of entire ceilings or walls. It is very time consuming and typically requiring 1 year or longer from the time the replacement/repair decision is made until the replacement chiller is installed. If companies have a need for chilled water year-round, managers and maintenance crew much use temporary cooling systems.
These factors and others make it understandable why some managers don’t act as quickly when faced with replacement chiller decisions. It’s not that simple to replace so most managers wait as long as possible using the old saying, “leave well enough alone”.
While this approach may sometimes work with other equipment, taking this chance can end of costing your tons of money and leave you without a chiller for a longer period of time.
It’s wise to move cautiously when facing potential disruption and cost attached to chiller repair and replacement but there are also other factors that should be taken into consideration. Knowing these factors and how you should apply them to your particular chiller installation is important to make your decision.
Keep Your Eye Focused On Efficiency
Manufacturers of chillers have made all types of improvements in chiller unit operating efficiencies over the past 20 years. Example: Many of today’s higher efficiency chillers have a load efficiency rating of (.50 kilowatts (kW) per ton. Very few chiller models have range of .40kW per ton.
Chillers, 10 years ago had load efficiency ratings of (.75 – .85 kW per ton). 20 years ago chillers were in range of (.85 – 1.00 kW per ton) efficiency ratings. This means that there is newer high efficiency chillers require about 60% of the energy that would of typically been used by a twenty year old chiller.
Chillers operate at full capacity less than 3% of the time, this improvement in load ratings serves as a measure of the improvement in chiller efficiencies. Even the most moderate improvements to chiller efficiency can result big savings for managers. More savings for facilities where chillers are operated for more than 2,000 hrs per year.