How Do Heat Exchangers Work?

How Do Heat Exchangers Work?

“HVAC” is a simple acronym for a complex system that regulates heating, cooling, and ventilation in your building. Let’s talk about one of the crucial components of your HVAC system, the heat exchanger.

What is a Heat Exchanger?

In the most basic terms, a heat exchanger moves heat from one medium to another without blending them. This temperature exchange usually occurs between two gases, two liquids, or a gas and a fluid. While you could argue that your entire HVAC system is a heat exchanger, the phrase commonly refers to a discrete component of the overall HVAC system.

What Is a Heat Exchanger Used For?

In commercial buildings and other larger structures such as high rises and data centers, a “heat exchanger” works to regulate and moderate the internal temperature. Thus, it takes part in the heating and cooling processes of HVAC. A heat exchanger works on the air conditioning processes in the summer heat by removing the hot air. Then, in the winter, the exchanger works with a furnace to warm cold air.

More importantly, a heat exchanger helps to improve ventilation while helping to maintain energy efficiency. This way, fresh air can be brought in without losing warmth in the winter or having hot outside air cause discomfort in the summer.

What Are the Types of Heat Exchangers?

There are a few basic categories that most heat exchangers fall into.

1.    Shell and Tube Heat Exchangers

Shell and tube heat exchangers are referred to as the “tube within a tube” style. A tube or tubes of liquid or gas runs through another tube with a different liquid or gas, allowing temperature exchange across their surfaces.

2.    Double Pipe Heat Exchangers

Double pipe heat exchangers are similar to the shell and tube style, but the pipes are wrapped around each other rather than one running through the center of the other one.

3.    Heating Recovery Ventilators (HRVs)

Heating recovery ventilators (HRVs), or mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) systems, are the cutting edge of current HVAC technology. These are heat exchangers that transfer temperature (hot or cold) between the HVAC system’s exhaust air and intake air.

4.    Plate Heat Exchangers

Plate heat exchangers use metal plates to exchange heat between two fluids. Additionally, condensers, evaporators, and boilers are also classified as heat exchangers.

Where Are Heat Exchangers Used?

Heat exchangers of various scales are used all around you. While our focus is their use in commercial HVAC systems, they are also common components of refrigeration systems. Most equipment that involves regulating temperature has a heat exchanger of some kind in it. As a matter of fact, you’re around one every time you drive, the radiator in your car.

Henick-Lane, Your Commercial HVAC Experts for More Than 50 Years

For more than five decades, Henick-Lane has developed a wide array of HVAC solutions for commercial buildings like data centers and high-rises in the New York City area. Whether it’s your heat exchanger, commissioning your HVAC system, or a completely customized solution, our experts are ready to help. Contact us by calling today – (718) 768-7277 – or by email at