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  • Who would be a refrigeration engineer?

    By Tony Deith

    What kind of person do you have to be to become a refrigeration engineer? Do you have to be extremely clever or in some cases extremely stupid? Have you ever come across a particular problem or customer and think, why am I doing this?

    Being a refrigeration engineer requires many different personalities or hats in order to be able to go about your job with as little hassle as possible. The first hat required is that of a dogs-body, this is worn when we first become trainees. However, this will change later to the hat of a human being once it is realised that we can now perform certain tasks, such as clean condensers and change the odd fan motor. Eventually we progress to that of human being with a personality that can perform a wider range of tasks, such as 24hr call and sometimes the odd first fix. Then comes the scary part - out on your own and without back up. When this stage is reached you have become an engineer (or you think you are.)

    You are now out on your own and have a van (that is what it says in the logbook) and a set of tools, but use the term TOOLS lightly. The calls are now flooding in - literally, as most of them are water leaks, this is when you don the hat of a plumber and are now the face of the company in the customers eyes and always will be. As your confidence grows you, begin to feel that you can fix anything, but in reality, half the service department is following behind you and you are affectionately known as the rubber ball as everything you hit bounces. This will disappear over the next year and you will receive the title of engineer who is all right - especially when he covers my 24hr callout. At this point, you empty out all the hats from the bag and put them on at the same time, very fetching.

    These hats cover a multitude of sins, firstly the communication hat that is used when bull****ing, I mean explaining to the customer what the problem is or when having a good moan about the job, as if we do that. The next hat is that of diplomat especially as you are the fifth engineer to attend the same problem this week (reference-rubber ball) and the customer is rather upset. Also, reference communication. The majority of engineers are blessed with common sense and some are not. But we are not all perfect, we all have our weaknesses and strengths whether it be in the mechanical or electrical hats that we wear when performing the role of refrigeration engineer, some people wear these hats well, some not so well and some not at all. Some people claim to have these particular hats, but nobody has ever seen them.

    Everybody wears their hats differently and in their own style, which shows through in their personalities. Refrigeration engineers are a breed of their own who thrives on overtime and gossip, the juicer the better if you ask me. Over the last few years, good engineers are thin on the ground and less skilled personnel are tagging themselves as refrigeration engineers. That is not to say that not every body who comes into this trade from another trade makes the grade, but a few give the trade a bad name. Now that ACRIB are more involved and the trade is now better regulated the standard of apprentice to engineer should become better.

    Tony Deith
    Comments 72 Comments
    1. Iyus Rusmana's Avatar
      Iyus Rusmana -
      Dear All,
      I will replace R22 by R 417A from my Air Conditioner system without throw away R22 to the atmosphere. How can I do that ???. What kinds of equipment I need and how to do that. Please tell me the stages ?

    1. jimmy wilkes's Avatar
      jimmy wilkes -
      self recommendation is no guarantee.you just got to care.its all big pipe,little pipe.some people just over complicate.master the basics and the rest will become clear,
    1. rahmat's Avatar
      rahmat -
      Hi ppl, i would like to know the criterion to select the control panels for a cold storage. waiting for your replies...
    1. Scramjetman's Avatar
      Scramjetman -
      Iyus & Rahmat,

      If you click on FORUM at the top of this page, and when the new page opens then select AIR CONDITIONING (Iyus) and ELECTRICAL (Rahmat) the guys there will help you with your questions. Re-ask your questions in those threads. This thread is dealing with the subject of Technicians/ Engineers.

      My thoughts - both form an integral part of the industry. Technicians would have nothing to troubleshoot or repair or service if stuff wasn't designed by Engineers in the first place. Trained technicians are an ideal choice if we had to pull down and rebuild any plant whether it be a 1/6hp fridge compressor or a 500 ton centrifugal. Each role has its place and comes with appropriate training in this industry. Each to his own.
    1. MikeHolm's Avatar
      MikeHolm -
      I have a number of qualifications and for a number of reason, mostly related to youth and a lack of mature gray cells back then, I never got to university to get a proper degree. That said, if I had the time away from my own business, years ago, I would have had letters of recommendation from the heads Danfoss, Grundfos, and a couple of other major companies in my field so i could write my exams with little time back at school. Alas, I did not have that time.

      Although I can do the design, troubleshooting and installation generally without problem, and understand WHY things work, those above me turn up their nose at those of us that have no engineering degree. Years ago, I used to be able to go into the city office with a heat load for a new building. I would have all the formula written down showing all the calculations (from memory) and I would get a heating permit. Now, without a myriad of other qualifications, OR AN ENGINEERING DEGREE, they won't even look at me. Heat loss has not changed. Heat still moves from hot to cold, as it did 20 years ago. Why don't they take our abilities seriously?

      It is partly because the mystique of the engineer has been built up over time to be something it often is not, A person with a body of knowledge great enough that their word should be taken without question. A true engineer is someone who delves into a subject, has the basic skills to learn the subject and to understand the issues around the perimeter of the subject (ie: fridge engineer, must know fluid dynamics, heat loads, electrical......multi -disciplinary) and come up with a working design for the system. In our ever more controlled society, we are being placed in little boxes that can be uncomfortable (dogs-body, technician, technologist, etc) and those of us who have the ability to see more than that definition sticks on us, ARE engineers. Whether society wants to believe it or not is up to them.
    1. cold.man's Avatar
      cold.man -
      conversations like this could go on for ever !!!!you have that many PEOLPE turning there hand to the refrigeration industry.THE GREY TRADE !!! take a look at australia for instance electricans fitting A/C on a restricted refrigeration license. are these people refrigeration engineers ? plumbers doing refrigeration the amount of vans i see plumbing, elec and a/c written on the side.i can understand how it gets the back up of these people who have done degrees etc but really its a load of b!!!!!Ks.engineer, technician, mechanic, any name really it does,t really matter the only thing that concerns me is whats going into my bank account. it could say joe blogges refrigeration Kn!!!!ad at the top of my payslip for all i cared. I know my strengths and what im good at and what im not and i certainly don't pretend i know about somthing if i don't i will ask and learn.tell you what i am a refrigeration professional hows that one !!!!!!!done my city and guilds and other courses over the 15 years ive been a proffessional !!!!!! you have people who can change parts, you have people who can design systems, you have people who haven't got a clue, and you have people who can repair refrigeration systems.domestic refrigerationcommmercial refrigeration ( light commercial )commercial refrigeration ( supermarket )industrial refrigerationmarine refrigerationdomestic air conditioningcommercial air conditioningVRF/VRV commercial and industrialchillersand more.....theres that many different areas of this industry i bet there's not a class room course on the planet that could teach all this, apart from experience in the field working in the particular sectors.in my eyes an engineer in this industry is someone who can think outside of the box and adapt and overcome any problem put in front of them and if you are this and have a degree then your a clever fu!!!!!g engineer.
    1. martinxxxxxx's Avatar
      martinxxxxxx -
      Who can cross train into A/C better plumbers or sparks?
    1. housedoc50's Avatar
      housedoc50 -
      Tony I have a theremo king apu, i think i read a form where you sent a few people codes for programming can i get a copy
    1. newbie's Avatar
      newbie -
      I think you have to be a little bit nutsFrom apprentice
    1. Scramjetman's Avatar
      Scramjetman -
      The industry here in Oz has gone to the pack. The consumers are the losers in the whole game. There are so many electricians here putting in splits and they are doing it for next to nothing. Of course when a machine fails and the client wants warranty, there's not much an electrician can do except look at the flashing lights and hope there is something in the book about it.

      The landscape has sure changed since when I did my apprenticeship. While the rest of the world has headed for specialisation, we have gone backwards. Next thing is we'll have carpenters building space stations because it's cheaper. I sometimes wonder about the academics who dream up this nonsense.

      The only way to survive here is stay mobile mentally. Look for work they can't do - big chillers, ducted systems, coldrooms, freezers, drying rooms and the like. As the goal posts move, move with them and stay ahead of the game.
    1. SCT's Avatar
      SCT -
      In Aus; My qualifications say "Refrigeration Mechanic" but i can say I offer the services of an Electrician, Plumber, Carpenter, Fitter, sheetmetal worker, Cleaner and welder and my core work is HVAC Mechanical - Install, overhaul, maintenace, service and commissioning of large plant. So getting back to the term "Engineer" yeah i am one but my title doesnt say that, and my title "Refrigeration Mechanic" it says that but i'm not one - havent touched refrigeration since trade school only HVAC - it all a figure of speach, depends where you come from and what era you grew up in.
    1. airee's Avatar
      airee -
      i got a display freezer which is having 115 volts evaporator fan motor since we hardly get those type of motor in my country can i install 240v motor having same features as the 115 volts ?
    1. Scramjetman's Avatar
      Scramjetman -
      Hi airee,

      This page is probably not the best place to ask this question.

      Your best plan is to start a new thread in the appropriate section. Here's how you do it.
      1. Scroll up to the top of this page,
      2. Click on Forum in the blue bar
      3. Scroll down to Refrigeration section
      4. Select Commercial
      5. Click on the green button near the top of that page that reads Start Thread.
      6. Enter your question and give it a header name which will appear in the list of threads in the Commercial section

      This will give you your best chance of getting an informed reply to your question. Have fun.
    1. Pbharambe's Avatar
      Pbharambe -
      Hi, i need a design procedure for Air cooled condensing unit design.Can u please help me.Thanks,Prashant
    1. wooleybull's Avatar
      wooleybull -
      every one who works in our feild knows there is no books that can teach you what you learn in the field, you have to make the mistakes to learn and become an engineer or tech, whatever you want to call yourself anyone in feild work knows that what is shown on drawings is never the same system that gets commisioned, common sense always prevails.
    1. FrasValTech's Avatar
      FrasValTech -
      I have been reading the posts since this article first was posted and as I haven't seen anyone mention something yet I felt it was time I point something out.I would STRONGLY hazard to guess that the author of this article is in North America somewhere, either here in Canada (such as myself) or in the states. The reason I mention this, and what I hope every tech who reads this considers, is because of a concept called, "occupational prestige". No one here will deny that the apprenticeship program (the Canadian model that is) is one of if not THE most grueling apprenticeships to have to go through. That being said, I believe the last time I checked, our first time pass rate on the IP exam here in British Columbia was something like 19%. Keep in mind, this is what is required to have your journeyman papers and be able to call yourself a refrigeration mechanic........NOT what is required to be considered one of the few that are in the top of your field and are able to mentor, teach, and contribute to the industry as a whole. The amount of hours spent reading and studying technical manuals and manufacturer documents and resources that seem to be exponentially unlimited with every new one you find...........well those of you who have walked this walk KNOW that although every trade has it's own struggles and is a challenge to get through in it's own right, there is something very different about TRUE understanding of refrigeration principles and the theory of thermodynamics.So there you are. Five years of formal apprenticeship, quite literally thousands of hours of extra circular studying to become confident and competent in your field........and here in the wonderful world of the west you're still just a dumb construction worker...........This is why so many of us refrigeration mechanics have adopted the nomenclature "service technician" or "techs" or NOW even apparently, "refrigeration engineers"! It is and has always been far more respectable by our society to choose a career path more akin to a collar that is white rather than blue. Even now our children at their very YOUNGEST and most impressionable ages are being gently nudged if not strongly persuaded to go down a more academic and university based route rather than choosing the trades. It was for me, for my father, and for my son, the elephant in the room that is "you should only consider a trade if you're not smart enough for a degree."And we are in shock and wonder as to why we have a trades shortage here in the west............So then we have the obvious question; now what? If that's the way it is, and seems to have always been, then what do we do? Do we try to change things by believing there is something wrong with the designation 'mechanic'? Or do we put the focus and pressure where it counts; our political leaders, our educational system, and even within the walls of our very home. We absolutely need to teach our children that to be a master in a trade is something that is every bit as occupationally prestigious as a doctor, lawyer, or pilot. We can encourage them to make educational decisions (and encourage our schools to support these decisions if they do not already) that allow for a more well balanced foundation of knowledge and skills RATHER than just the geography and climate of their country at the turn of the 18th century.Let us choose NOT to undermine any of the hard work, dedication, and devotion all engineers have demonstrated when choosing THEIR journey in life. But equally as important, let us not undermine any of our OWN by failing to be proud of who we have become EVEN in a society that is still just beginning to provide us the occupational prestige that we so deserve and desire.
    1. anand123's Avatar
      anand123 -
      Could someone tell me the difference between petrol engine and diesel engine compressor valve reed (suction reed and discharge reed)?
    1. anand123's Avatar
      anand123 -
      hi ever one,Could someone tell me, any relation between compress valve reed thickness and reed length?
    1. stufus's Avatar
      stufus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nh34life View Post
      im inovitive and can make split second life threating decisions at the drop of a hat, that is an engineer.
      Don't know about that !! Sounds more Psychopath than an engineer

      I'd prefer to have someone around who could make "life saving" decisions at the drop of a hat.

      But I know what you meant,

    1. mahammadhanif's Avatar
      mahammadhanif -
      Hi TXIceman do you have in your country air conditioning and refrigeration engineering of 5 years. Signal person can`t be a air conditioning and refrigeration engineering it`s a so may discipline task. For big project like district cooling plan it`s need electrical, instrument or controls and mechanical engineer. So you are all discipline engineer ???????????
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