A condenser is the most fundamental part of any machine which provides cooling – an air conditioner or a refrigerator. It is the most integral part of an air conditioner. Aluminium and Copper condensers have different properties and they enhance the air conditioning unit. But, which one is better to use? We will get to that shortly, but let us explain what a condenser is before we proceed.
What is a condenser?
A condenser is responsible for releasing heat which has been absorbed by the cooling system from inside the room to the outside atmosphere of the room. Therefore, the condenser and the coil’s material inside it, the fins and the fan are the real heroes of your air conditioner, which are present in the outer unit of the split air conditioner machine. What we term as the material of a condenser is actually being referred to as the material of the coil which is used inside the condenser.
A. Types of Condensers
The condenser’s material is very important because the outer unit stays outside your room, and undergoes layers of dust and rain and stays in extreme conditions; and therefore needs to be made of superior quality materials to prevent rusting and increase the longevity of the product. There are different types of condensers available in your average machine, which could be air-cooled, water-cooled or evaporative cooled in nature. The air-cooled condensers suck the heat out and eject it into the outer atmosphere, whereas the water-cooled condensers are usually used in swimming pools and condenser pipes and are more difficult to clean than the air-cooled ones. The evaporative cooled condensers use both air and water-cooled condensers, have higher productivity, and are more energy-efficient. Other than this, condensers are usually available in three materials – copper, aluminium and aluminium alloy.
B. How does a condenser work in an AC?
A condenser is usually a device that turns the gases into a liquid form to eject them out of the machine. Such a condenser in an air conditioner is fitted with a coil that has a gaseous coolant. The primary job of any condenser or metallic coil in the air conditioner is to exchange heat, due to which your room will be cooled down. So what happens is, electricity passes through the condenser system and makes it (the coolant in the condenser coil) to absorb the heat, warmth and humidity from the room’s atmospheric air and sucks it out with the help of the fan.
Split air conditioners are made of the same basic parts: a condenser cabinet containing a condenser coil (which differs from metal to metal), a compressor, a fan, and other various controls. The condenser coils are usually made of copper tubing with aluminium fins or aluminium tubing, or even aluminium alloy tubing to be rapidly transferred and ejected. The condenser fan is an extremely important part of the machine, and it circulates the air into the coil, helping in heat transfer.
Difference between copper and aluminium condensers
A. Heat Conductivity
The heat transfer takes place in the coils, so the metal in the coil must be equipped to have enhanced heat transferring properties. Copper transfers heat much faster than any other metal because it has a higher heat transfer coefficient. So, if you’re purchasing an air conditioner with a copper coil in the condenser, it will cool your room much faster. However, copper as a material is a bit pricier than aluminium, and therefore your air conditioning system will cost more than average.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re situated in a place where there is a lot of humidity, or if it is closer to the sea, the warm weather can actually form a layer of rust and dirt on the coils of the condenser and slow down the heat transfer process and ultimately damage it. Copper condensers are easier to clean than aluminium condensers, and copper condensers can be cleaned if corroded, but aluminium condensers need to be replaced if there is any corrosion. To stop the condenser from corroding, regular maintenance is needed, which is a time-consuming job for most of us.
Though both the metals (copper and aluminium) are very easily recyclable, copper extraction is not exactly a very environmentally responsible job. It emits many acidic gases that can potentially destroy crops, deteriorate land quality, and damage buildings. On the other hand, aluminium is a greener metal due to its affordability, easy access, long life, and durability.
In addition to the condenser type, the inclusion of inverter technology also plays a part in ensuring environment friendliness of an air conditioning unit. Inverter air conditioners are efficient with their functioning and smartly utilize optimal electricity corresponding to the thermostat settings. Learn more about these here: Inverter vs non-inverter air conditioners.
D. Tensile Strength
Copper has a higher tensile strength which is approximately 40% higher than aluminium. This means that aluminium is much more prone to breaking due to its being brittle than copper. So, in terms of longevity, investing in a copper condenser is better since it is easily much more tensile than an aluminium condenser coil. It is not so brittle, and even after being less pliable, its tensile strength is more than that of aluminium and will not break easily.
Aluminium is more pliable and malleable than copper, so an aluminium condenser is cheaper than copper. You would need three times the usual amount of copper to replicate an aluminium coil, which increases the cost. Usually, copper condensers require much more work them due to them being not so pliable in nature, thereby increasing the production cost and, consequently, increasing the final product price. However, manufacturers are reducing the thickness of the copper coils to bring down the production cost.
Aluminium, in general, is not very long-lasting as compared to copper. When damaged, the aluminium coils have to be replaced, whereas copper condensers can bear the humid weather, moisture, water, air and still function properly if kept under good maintenance. It can be repaired and reused accordingly and does not need much replacement to work. Copper is definitely much more durable a metal than aluminium.
It is much more difficult to maintain an aluminium condenser than a copper condenser mainly because aluminium condensers need to be housed inside a heavy-duty cabinet protected from corrosion. Copper condensers can easily be serviced upon to be cleaned, and it is easy to remove the corrosion in most cases, but if your aluminium coil gets corroded, you will have no other option but to replace it. Therefore, maintenance of the copper condenser is easier.
This factor, however, has a direct influence over price of the unit. Copper condenser air conditioners are costlier than aluminium counterparts. Premium brands including Daikin, Carrier, Voltas, Lloyd tend to price than models higher than most other options available. We’ve selected a list of the best air conditioners across major brands that can be bought for less than 30000 for your reference.
Aluminium condenser vs Copper condenser: Which is Better?
An aluminium metal condenser coil is definitely much greener, cheaper, pliable, and ultimately will not burn a hole in your pocket when compared to a copper condenser coil. However, due to its increased longevity, easy maintenance, durability, high tensile strength and anti corroding properties, copper is a better choice, despite being not so easy on the pocket. This is because your air conditioner is going to be a one-time investment. Instead of investing in the best quality, if you have to keep replacing faulty parts continuously, it will be much more expensive than originally buying the one with a copper condenser. A copper condenser is easily the better choice because it is a value for money deal and will be extremely long-lasting without you having to worry about it.
Choosing an air conditioner with the correct type of condenser can be difficult for most of us because there are so many new technologies available in the market, we mostly do not know which one will suit our needs the best. But with the correct guide and pros and cons listed for each little point while comparing the aluminium and copper condensers, you can easily make the correct choice for your household and what will be a good fit for you. Happy shopping!