Effects of multiple simultaneous faults on characteristic fault detection features of a heat pump in cooling mode

Yifeng Hu, David P. Yuill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Faults in air-cooled vapor compression air-conditioning systems are known to reduce performance, including efficiency, capacity, and lifespan. Their effects have been studied, and fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) methods have been developed as tools for field technicians to install or repair systems, or for monitoring to alert operators to the fault's presence. Most of this work has focused on faults that occur singly. It is likely that in some systems, multiple faults occur simultaneously, but it is uncertain what effects this may have on diagnostics. This paper describes a laboratory study of a split system air source heat pump in which combinations of two, three, and four simultaneous faults occur. The study includes all combinations of: improper evaporator airflow; overcharge or undercharge of refrigerant; liquid line restrictions; and non-condensable gas in the refrigerant, each at multiple fault intensities. Fault features – those characteristics that can be determined from measurements, for use in diagnostics – are analyzed, and the key fault features are presented. A robust existing method for determining refrigerant charge, the virtual refrigerant charge sensor (VRC) is tested using the multiple fault data, in order to understand how its performance is impacted by the combined faults. The VRC performs well, typically able to correctly determine whether a system is undercharged or overcharged, but the magnitude estimates are impacted. The results suggest that simple subcooling-based methods of charging a system are likely to provide unsatisfactory results when other faults are present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111355
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - Nov 15 2021


  • Feature selection
  • Measurement variables
  • Residential air source heat pump
  • Simultaneous faults
  • Subcooling
  • Superheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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