In this work, the condensation of refrigerants on a single, high-density, low-fin tube and full-sized shell and tube condensers were investigated experimentally. The low-fin tube had an external fin density of 56 fins per inch (fpi) and fin height 1.023 mm. Another three-dimensional (3D) finned tube was also tested for comparison. The condensing heat transfer coefficient of the refrigerant R134a was first investigated outside a single horizontal tube at saturation temperature of 40 °C. The overall heat transfer coefficients of the two tubes were similar in magnitude. The condensing heat transfer coefficient of the low-fin tube was 16.3–25.2% higher than that of 3D enhanced tube. The experiments of the two condensers mounted with low-fin and 3D enhanced tubes were then conducted in centrifugal and screw chiller test rigs. It was found that chillers with the two different condensers generally had the same refrigeration capacity under the same experiment conditions. The refrigeration capacity of the screw chiller was smaller. It had fewer tube rows and elicited fewer inundation effects owing to the falling condensate. The heat transfer coefficients of the condensers with R134a in centrifugal chillers equipped with high-density low-finned tubes were higher than those in the screw chillers. The total number of tubes for low-fin tube condensers, in the two chillers, was reduced by approximately 15% compared with the use of domestic advanced condensers equipped with the 3D enhanced tubes.

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