For readers who are technically inclined, we asked our manufacturing engineer why so many Breezaire cooling units are failing after just 3 years in the field. His answers to our questions are below.
First, a bit of context. For 17 years, Le Cache used Breezaire cooling units* exclusively in its wine cabinets. In 2006, we started receiving alarming numbers of calls from customers complaining that their cooling unit “won’t get below 60 degrees”, “runs all the time”, “won’t cool properly” and “won’t get above 49 percent humidity”, and started to notice a significant increase in manufacturing defects. That’s when we decided to develop CellarPro cooling units.
At CellarPro, we use premium components and advanced manufacturing and testing processes from beginning to end. As a result, it costs us more to build a CellarPro unit than our wholesale cost to purchase a Breezaire unit! But we felt like we had no choice, and after reading the following Q&A, we think you’ll agree.
Q. It looks like we’ve repaired approx. 50 Breezaire units in the last few months. What are the most common failures?
Qty / Description
9 / Bad Controller
1 / Bad Compressor
41 / Leak Evaporator
0 / Leak Condensor
2 / Leak Gas Loop
2 / Bad Cap/Strainer
1 / Bad Fan
This data is not 100% complete, but it outlines the general trends. Some units had multiple issues. Most common is a leak – we have stopped doing the detailed leak detection because it is so time consuming, so if the unit does not have a charge we replace the evap, hot gas loop, and cap/strainer. Most of the units with controller problems also had a leak. I would estimate 10% of the leaks to be in the gas loop, the rest are evaporator leaks.
Q. What is causing the failures?
Controller: not a quality component. Between 15 and 20% of the returned leaking units also have a bad controller. Having the unit run excessively creates two problems: 1) increased coil wear on the inside due to long run times and cap tube system inability to regulate, so velocities can get higher than optimal 2) Long runs create excessive moisture on the cold side, and heat on the hot side, which accelerates the corrosion of the hot gas loop.
Evap leaks: Not conclusive, but I believe a portion are internal source leaks due to controller problems or undersized units causing excessive run times. Another factor could be that Breezaire does not evacuate their coils as effectively, or they leave their systems open too long during the brazing process which can create acids in the oil. If the leaks are external, eg acid from the wine bottles, which is a corrosive agent to coils, Breezaire’s grey coating may not be sufficient to protect against this.
Q. Is there anything we should tell customers to do in the field to extend longevity?
A. Run the unit at the highest setpoint that can be tolerated. At 55F, the Breezaire unit may have to run constantly.
Q. Will CellarPro units experience the same failures?
Our controller is more reliable, we have defrost cycles, we have larger coils to minimize condensate generation, TEV’s to regulate the flow to prevent excessive internal refrigerant velocities, and we have electrofin coating on the coils which is much more effective against external corrosive agents. We have some risk with the hot gas loop, but we do a better job of insulating it from direct contact with other metal. A portion of the BA failures were mechanical due to a sharp mounting bracket crimped down on it, which we do not have.
Q. Should we change anything in how we manufacture our CP units?
A. We do make continuous improvements as we learn more from field feedback. With regard to what we’ve seen on BA units, our current design, components, and manufacturing processes minimize our risk of similar field failures.
*Le Cache wine cabinets used Breezaire’s WKB 1060 and WKB 2200, which are the same as WKD 1060 and 2200, WKC 1060 and 2200 and WKCE 1060 and 2200 cooling units, except that the “E” units have Electronic, rather than mechanical, controls.