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Air-cooled centrifugal chillers are commonly used in commercial buildings but their
performance analysis is lacking. This paper investigates the part load performance of the
chillers via a thermodynamic model. The model was validated using a wide range of
operating data from an existing chiller with specific settings of outdoor temperature and
condensing pressure in controlling the condensing temperature. The validated model was
developed specifically to ascertain the maximum coefficient of performance of chiller (COP)
together with the strategy for optimizing the condensing temperature under various
operating conditions. It is found that the highest COP occurs at a part load ratio (PLR) of
0.71–0.84, depending on the outdoor temperature and the control of condensing
temperature, rather than at full load. Yet the chillers operating at such part load conditions
will cause extra energy used for the early staging of chilled water pumps. To minimize the
overall chiller plant energy consumption, it is still preferable to implement chiller sequencing
based on the full load condition than on the aforementioned PLRs. The results of this paper
present criteria for implementing low-energy strategies for operating air-cooled chillers
satisfying a given building cooling load profile.