semi-truck in the sunset

Now that you’ve read a little more about your semi-truck’s HVAC system, you’ll want to make sure you know how some of the individual components work. In this post we’ll be discussing how the condenser unit works in your commercial truck’s air conditioning unit. To help you learn more about your HVAC unit, our panel of experts have put together the following information on condensers.

Read on to learn more about the condenser in your heavy-duty vehicle’s HVAC system!

If you would like to read more about your semi-truck's HVAC system take a look at our article on compressors as well.

What Is An HVAC Condenser?

A condenser is a radiator positioned between the truck’s grille and the radiator for the motor. Same as a radiator, the unit consists of rows of passages and metal fins that supply a wide area of air contact. The purpose of the condenser is to radiate heat out of the HVAC system.

How does a Condenser Work?

Inside of the condenser unit, gaseous refrigerant sheds heat and moves into a liquid state. The refrigerant enters the condenser as a pressurized gas from the compressor. Pressurizing the gas and moving it to the condenser creates heat, while air pushing around the tubes of the condenser cool the refrigerant down until it becomes a liquid again. Stated simply, it condenses refrigerant from a gas to a liquid.

When the disbursed heat leaves the condenser, what’s left is a liquid refrigerant that remains under high pressure. The unit pushes refrigerant into the expansion valve (or orifice tube), which then crosses a wall and enters the passenger compartment, cooling or heating it until it’s the temperature the driver desires.

Three Signs You Have A Bad Condenser

The condenser is an integral piece of the HVAC system in your semi-truck. This means that it’s particularly important to check it when you are going through routine maintenance. A condenser should last you anywhere from eight to ten years. While it may not harm your vehicle, a bad condenser can make the cabin extremely hot, especially during the summer months.

The first thing you’ll notice is that your AC is blowing out only warm air. This can mean that you have a bad condenser. When the condenser is bad, heat doesn’t distribute properly, and your unit will only blow out warm air.  There are several warning signs you can look out for when determining why your HVAC system isn’t working.

  1. Loud or abnormal noises: Loud noises coming from the condenser unit are a sign that the unit is not working properly. When the condenser is working as intended, it should be silent in operation.
  2. Significantly reduced cooling capability: When your condenser goes bad, the blower will not blow out cool air. This means that your condenser is bad and will need to be replaced.
  3. Unit is leaking: None of your HVAC components should be leaking fluid. If your system begins to leak, it can lead to blockages in the unit, which can lead to costly repairs down the line. Since the tubes in your condenser can’t be replaced, you’ll want to look into to purchasing a new unit.   

Troubleshooting your Condenser Unit

Do you think you might be having issues with your condenser? If so, there are a couple of ways you can troubleshoot your condenser unit for leaks without having to bring it into the mechanic.

  1. The first way is to spray a water and soap mixture on the condenser’s components to see if any air comes through. If there is a leak you will see bubbles form around the area.
  2. The second way requires a leak detector and freon. Fill your system with freon and turn on your leak detector, making sure it’s set to its lowest sensitivity. You’ll first want to check your O-rings, as they are a common spot for leaks to occur.

Read More About HVAC Systems

If you have questions regarding the rest of your HVAC system and its components, then you’ve come to the right place. As part of our ongoing efforts to bring you the most information possible, our team of specialists has been working on a series of HVAC system articles that includes compressors, condensers, and now evaporators.

  1. Getting to know you HVAC system
  2. Getting to know your HVAC system – Compressors
  3. Getting to know your HVAC system – Evaporators
  4. Getting to know your HVAC system - Blower Motors

Shop HVAC Today!

Are you in the market for a replacement condenser for your semi-truck’s HVAC system? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Our online store has a multitude of condensers, compressors, evaporators, and blower motors from all your favorite manufacturers.