Every piece of cooling equipment, large or small, stationary or mobile, indoor or outdoor, needs preventive maintenance. Dirt, grease, and other debris continually coat and insulate condensing units, electrical systems, motors, and other components located in the path of the air intake.

The placement of units and their air intake locations pose unique challenges in hostile environments such as: restaurants, laundries, garage/loading docks, and manufacturing/industrial processing areas. Airflow obstructions of any kind are a costly expense. Even if foreign objects are not visible, the buildup of airborne dirt will impact the equipment’s ability to work efficiently, and require repeated maintenance and cleaning.

Dirty equipment means efficiency decreases, heat buildups, higher discharge pressure, and increased amp draw. Forced to run for longer cycle times, at reduced capacity, the equipment eventually breaks down, life expectancy decreases, and power costs escalate.

An AEC unit.


One believer in applying a proactive approach to maintaining top performance levels from equipment is AEC, Inc., Wood Dale, IL. The company manufactures portable and central chillers, cooling towers, plant-wide chilled water systems, and fluid temperature control units.

AEC has been installing equipment protection screens, designed and manufactured by Permatron, in chiller units since 1994.

AEC’s PS Series 5- to 15-hp portable chillers have an operating leaving water temperature range of 30 to 65 degrees F (-1 to 18 degrees C). Featuring hermetic scroll compressor technology for reduced energy consumption and improved system reliability, these units rely on two side-positioned air intake areas and one or two top-loading exhaust fans, depending on the model. Each air intake and NEMA-rated ODP fan motor on the air-cooled portable chiller uses a protection screen of three-dimensional polypropylene media encased in a steel frame.

Permatron's protective screen.


A unique application for AEC’s PSA5 460/3/60 portable chiller was an installation in Mexico for a fluorescent lighting manufacturer. Installed in conjunction with an AEC temperature control unit, it is used to maintain a constant temperature in a large, outside storage tank of varnish used at the plant.

The unit’s high-efficiency scroll compressor and close-tolerance temperature control (±1 degree F) maintains setpoints within an operating range of 30 degrees down to -65 degrees, requiring maximum air intake efficiencies. Placement within an active industrial facility means that along with the necessary recirculating air needed to maintain the chiller’s efficiencies, the equipment’s air intake fans will draw in contaminating dirt and dust particles.

This unit’s screen, featuring Permatron’s Accumulator Chamber® construction, contains two 1/4-in. filtration panels held in an outer steel frame. This was designed to resist particulate buildup on the surface to maintain adequate airflow. Low resistance to airflow allows for maximum equipment efficiencies, reduced pressure increases, and less heat buildup.

The PS chillers were also designed to simplify service and maintenance. The equipment protection screens were placed on the outside of the chiller for easier access and removal, so that the screens can be readily washed and reused.

Matthies is vice president, corporate communications, for Permatron Corporation, Franklin Park, IL. Contact permatrngm@aol.com (e-mail); www.permatron.com (website).

Publication date: 06/03/2002