Conference Year



Virtual Sensor, Refrigerant Charge, Variable speed compressor, Fault detection, Fault diagnosis


The primary goal of the work described in this paper was to evaluate and extend a virtual refrigerant charge sensor (VRC) for determining refrigerant charge for equipment having variable-speed compressors and fans. To evaluate the accuracy of the VRC, data were first collected from previous laboratory tests for different systems and over a wide range of operating conditions. In addition, new laboratory tests were performed to consider conditions not available within the existing data set. The systems for the new laboratory tests were two residential ductless split heat pump systems that employ a variable-speed compressor and R-410a as the refrigerant. Based on the evaluations, the original virtual charge sensor (termed Model I) was found to work well in estimating the refrigerant charge for systems with a variable-speed compressor under many operating conditions. However, for extreme test conditions such as low outdoor temperatures and low compressor speed, the VRC needed to be improved. To overcome the limitations, the model associated with the VRC sensor was modified to include a term involving the inlet quality to the evaporator (termed model II). Both the model I and II showed good performance in terms of predicting charge levels for systems with a constant speed compressor, but model II gave better performance for systems with a variable-speed compressor. However, when the superheat of the compressor was zero, neither model I nor II could accurately predict charge level. Therefore, a third approach (Model III) was developed that includes the discharge superheat of the compressor. This model improved performance for a laboratory-tested system that included a number of points with no superheat entering the compressor.