Condenser: Definition, Principle, Types, Working, Advantages


The condenser is a widely used component in various industries like boilers, gas pipelines, chemical industries, etc.

In this article, I will discuss condensers, From scratch to end. This will be your final destination regarding the condenser.

I invite you to come with me and join along this journey of knowledge. Grab your seat and feel comfortable in Engineers Rail.

So, Without any further delay, let’s get started…

What is Condenser?

The condenser is a type of heat exchanger device, where gaseous substances are compressed into a liquid state using a cooling agent and, then latent heat is released in the environment, known as a condenser.

In general, A Heat Exchanging device used in condensing gaseous or vapour state substances into a liquid state, Known as a condenser.

The condenser is made from word”Condense‘, Meaning is ‘to compress‘ and this compression is called condensation

Although, The process of changing the vapour state into the liquid state, is known as condensation.

This condensation process involves temperature changes, from high to low.

Basically, Condensation is the reverse process of Vaporization

Principle of Working-

The condenser works based on Heat Transfer.

Heat Transfer is the main principle behind the condenser working, Where Transferring of heat is done through cooling agent supplies in the chamber.

Before Talking about working, It would be nice to know about the main component of the condenser, So it won’t bother you in the working section.

Main components-

Here are the main components of the condenser. Given below-

  • Shell
  • Tubes
  • Cooling Agent
  • Coolant inlet
  • coolant outlet
  • Vapour Inlet
  • Condensate Outlet
  • Non-condensing vapour outlet

Shell- Shell is the outer surface and base of the condenser.

Tubes– Tubes are the main component of the condenser, Through that vapour or gas is passed.

Cooling agent– To Create Temperature difference and to absorb vapour temperature, a Cooling agent is needed.

Coolant inlet–  A Place, from where the coolant is entered in to shell.

Coolant Outlet– A Place, Where Used coolant is passed out from the shell.

Vapour Inlet– A place, where High-temperature vapour is entered into the tubes.

Condensate Outlet– A place, Where condensed liquid is passed out from the tube.

Non-condensing vapour outlet– A Place, Where Non-condensing vapour is passed by.

Enjoying? Yes, You !!

IF So, Then It’s time to explain the working of the condenser, I mean How does it work? So stay with me and Scroll gently.

Working of Condenser-

How does Condenser Works? Here is How-

Firstly, High temperature vaporised gas is entered through vapour inlet. Now, the Coolant is throwdown in the condenser shell through the coolant inlet(Shown in fig.).

When High-temperature vapour passes through tubes inside the shell, Vapour releases its heat to the coolant present in the shell through the heat transfer process.

As vapour passes through tubes inside, It losses its temperature rapidly along the path. Due to a fall in temperature, Vapour starts to change its state from vapour to liquid.

As falling of vapour temperature comes equivalent to the coolant temperature, Condensation is completed.

Now, the vapour is fully condensed and changed to the liquid state and ready to use as feed water from the condensate outlet.

Fig. Working of Condenser-

Image source- Google | Image by-

Are you there?

If so then, I am heading you to the types of condensers. And so, this section is going to be interesting. So, Stay present and flow with words right there.

Types of Condensers-

There are basically three major types of condensers used-

  1. Air Cooled 
  2. Water Cooled
  3. Evaporative type

Now, Let’s discuss one by one with their individual sub-types as well.

1. Air Cooled Condensers– 

These types of condensers exchange heat through the air, Known as Air cooled condensers.

As I talk about working- Air-cooled types use air to remove heat from vapour or steam inside the tube. When high-temperature Steam or vapour enters the tube, Steam transfers heat to the tube and hence transfers heat into the surroundings due to the connection of air to the tube.

 Air cooled condenser

The medium of blasting air can be natural or forced. However, I will discuss it just right below. So, stay tuned.

In This Air-cooled type, There are two Sub-type of condensers. That is-

  1. Natural convection 
  2. Forced Convection

I. Natural Convection

When atmospheric air is passed through the condenser, vapour or gas inside the tube releases its heat to the surrounding atmosphere, resulting in the cooling of steam and turning to a liquid state.

Natural convention Condenser
Natural Convection Fins

As the name suggests, Natural convection uses natural atmospheric air to cool the vapour and hence natural air is used as a cooling agent

In Natural convection, Fins are used to increase the overall efficiency of the condenser. Fins raised the surface area of the condenser and therefore increased Heat rejection.

These types of condensers are made from Iron, Copper and Steel. These are mostly used in domestic refrigeration systems.

The best example of Natural convection is Home Refrigerator, As you see, there is no external fan to blow air to the condenser. It uses surrounding air as a coolant.

II. Forced Convection

This type of condenser needs a fan or blower to circulate the air over the condenser tube to cool.

As the air comes in contact with hot tubes, Air takes the hot tubes’ heat and gets them cooled.

This condenser is much more efficient than natural convection because the mounted fan pressurized the natural air and passes through the condenser tubes and fins.


Forced air-cooled condensers are used in domestic deep freezers, water coolers, window air conditioners.

Mostly, Forced convection types are made from copper material.

Now, It’s time to discuss the second major type- ie Water-coole0d

2. Water Cooled Condensers

Water-cooled type condensers are those, who use water as a cooling medium.

These types of condensers are used in large refrigerating industrials needs.

They are used in plants where loads are excessive and a large amount of refrigerant flows to the condensers.

The best example of this type is- Central air conditioning plants.water-cooled-Condenser


If so, Then I am going to move to a sub-type of the same.

In This Water-cooled type, There are three Sub-type. They are-

I. Tube in Tube 

II. Shell & coil Type

III. Shell & Tube Type

I. Tube in Tube Type condenser

In this type of condenser, water flows through the inner tube and while the refrigerant flows through the circular space between these two tubes. This type of condenser is also known as a Double tube condenser.

In this type of condenser, Two pipes are used in pipe circumference, Where a small diameter coolant circular pipe is fitted above the bigger diameter refrigerant pipe, that’s why its name is- tube in tube or double tube condenser.

The flow of refrigerant and water is arranged in opposite directions to get the maximum benefit of heat transfer.

when the water enters through the inner tube in t0 the condenser, refrigerant exchanges its heat to the water and refrigerant gets cooled and converts vapour into the liquid state till the end of the condenser, And its obvious water becomes warmer as leave the condenser.


II. Shell & coil Type condenser

This type of condenser is made of a welded steel shell containing a coil of finned tubing.

The water flows inside the coil and the refrigerant flows into the shell.

When the refrigerant enters from the inlet side of the shell in hot vapour form, it contacts the coil which is the water flows inside the coil.

The refrigerant & water exchange their heat where the water gets warmer and the refrigerant gets cools.


III. Shell & Tube Type Condenser

In this type of condenser, Shell and tube both are used, That’s why its name is shell & tube.

The Straight tubes and integral fins are mounted inside the cylindrical shell.

The cooled water enters from water intel mounted on the downside of the device, Then temperature vapour refrigerant enters from the top of the shell and gets de-superheated and then condensate and after that sub-cooled.

The water comes from the water outlet at raised temperature due to heat exchange between the heated refrigerant and cooled water.

The best example of this type is- Refrigeration industry.

shell and tube condenser

Now, it’s time to discuss the final condenser type, ie, the Evaporative condenser. So, here I go-

3. Evaporative Type Condenser

This type of condenser has the features of both air and water-cooled condensing facilities.

Air and water are both used as a cooling medium.

Water is pumped from the sump of the evaporative condenser to a spray header sprayed over the condenser coil and at the same time, the fan draws air from the bottom side of the condenser and discharges it out at the top of the condenser.

The spray water comes in contact with the condenser tube surface, then it evaporates into the air streams.

The source of heat for vaporizing the water is taken from the refrigerant, thereby condensing the gas.

Evaporative types consume less power than water-cooled types.


After completing various types of condensers, I would like to move you to another section of the article, Where you will know the material used in the construction of condensers and further performance parameters.

Materials of Construction

Here are some materials used in the construction of Condensers. Given Below-

  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Steel
  • Titanium
  • Nickel

Performance Parameters of Condenser

Here are some points to consider, When measuring the performance of the condensers-

  • Heat rejection rate
  • Refrigerant mass flow rate
  • Compressor power
  • Electric power input
  • Co-efficient of performance

Are you There?

If so, Then I am going to discuss Advantages, Disadvantages, Applications and codes and standards. So, Stay tuned, Because more to come here down the road.

Advantages of Condenser-

Here are some major Advantages of Condensers-

  • It increases the expansion ratio of steam, and hence increases the efficiency of the plant.
  • It reduces the backpressure of the steam, and thus more work can be obtained.
  • It reduces the temperature of the exhaust steam, and its increasing work efficiency.
  • The reuse of condensate as feed water for the boilers reduces the cost of power generation.
  • The temperature of the condensate is higher than that of the freshwater, therefore the amount of heat supplied per kg of steam is reduced.
  • Useful in Obtaining the better vacuum
  • Less space is required


Here are some Disadvantages of condensers, Given in the table-

S.No. Disadvantage 
1 Needs Adequate supply of freshwater
2 Difficult to repair
3 Corrosion
4 Requires more space
5 High maintenance cost


Here are some Applications of condensers-

S.No. Applications
1 Power Plants
2 Chemical Processes
3 Air conditioning
4 Boilers
5 Mechanical Industries

Codes and Standards-

Acceptance Criteria are given by standards Organizations-

IS 11327:2017– Requirement for Refrigerant Condensing Units

IS 11329:2018– Finned type heat exchanger for room air conditioner

PTC 12.2-2010(R2020)– Steam Surface Condensers

Efficiency of Condenser-

Using this formula efficiency is calculated- Condenser-efficiency

Condenser Example-

  • Liebig condenser
  • Graham condenser
  • Allihn condenser


The condenser is the major device in any refrigeration industry or in boilers, However, I Discussed it in detail above. As far as testing is concerned, These can be tested through Eddy current testing, One of the NDT Methods, Where Eddy current of Condenser Tubes can be done easily through ECT.

I hope you enjoyed till here and added some value to your Dictionary. If so, consider sharing with your colleague, Friends or needy ones and help to spread the knowledge.

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Thank you for being here. I hope to see you soon.



Before you go, Here are some Q&A sections, You might love to spend some time here-


Q. What are the symptoms of a bad condenser?

Ans. These are symptoms of Bad Condenser-

  • Loudy Noise 
  • Efficiency Drop
  • Leakage

If found any of these symptoms, Consider contacting mechanics.

Q. Will an engine run without a condenser?

Ans. Yes, Various motor engines run without a condenser, with help of a capacitor instead.

Q. What is the purpose of the condenser?

Ans. The main purpose is- To convert High-Temperature gas into low-temperature Liquid.



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