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How Modern Technology Is Overcoming Common HVAC Problems

Posted on The Cooler Blog May 24, 2013 by Terry Jones

The continuous increasing cost of electricity is a common concern for everyone. There are several HVAC components available in the market and these three are some of the most effective innovations.

Ductless Split System. This type of HVAC system has been used primarily for residential buildings. However, ductless split systems are now being applied to business and institutional facilities as their primary HVAC component. The system consists of both a heating and cooling system which can cover up to five areas in a building. Refrigerant lines link together an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor ductless air handler. Units of this system look like ordinary window air conditioners and are operated in the same manner. The difference lies in the physical partitioning of the indoor and outdoor portions of the system.

The selling factor of ductless split systems is the size of the interior unit. Since it is not bulky, the system can be installed almost anywhere. You can run the refrigerant lines that connect the two portions through a small hole on a wall. Another great feature is how quietly it operates. Unlike the compressor of ordinary AC units, the compressor of ductless split systems is separated from the other parts of the system.

The best part about ductless split systems is they can help in saving energy and money. Costs of ducted systems are significantly higher. Since there are no ducts where air can leak in or out of, this type of system is also energy efficient. It is also this lack of ducts which make this system advantageous for facilities that undergo constant remodeling or renovations.

Oil-Free Compressors. Generally, you need to apply oil to compressors in order to lubricate internal bearings. This may seem helpful but it can actually cause the inefficiency of you HVAC system if the refrigerant transports the oil to the evaporator and condenser. Oil may then coat the internal parts which will obstruct the transfer of heat. This in turn makes the unit work harder so it uses up more energy. Frequent maintenance is also needed for compressors that use oil to be sure that the oil is not contaminated. Otherwise this will damage the entire system. Furthermore, application of oil does not totally eliminate the risk of friction. Friction can cause deterioration of the bearings which could eventually lead to replacement of the unit.

Oil-free compressors do not face these problems. Magnetic bearings suspend the impellers and rotating shaft so they move as a single unit. This feature makes oil-free compressors more efficient and it eliminates the need for frequent maintenance.

Ranging from sizes between 60 to 160 tons, oil-free compressors have an operating efficiency of between 0.35 and 0.55 kW per ton. Conventional compressors have operating efficiencies ranging from 0.50 to 0.75 kW per ton. This could lead to an improvement in operating efficiencies to about 30%.

VRF Systems. Variable Refrigerant Flow systems or VRFs are considerably new in the field of HVAC technology. This type of system balances the flow rate on the refrigerant from the compressor to the heating or cooling load of the facility. There are two major types of VRF systems. One type circulates the refrigerant between a solitary outdoor unit and multiple indoor units. VRF works best for small to medium sized buildings which require different levels of heating or cooling for every zone. The refrigerant flow is controlled by a compressor operated by a variable frequency drive. When the heating or cooling load increases, the variable frequency drive speeds up the compressor to increase the flow of the refrigerant.

The other type of VRF system works best for bigger buildings which require simultaneous heating and cooling for separate zones. This consists of water-source heat pumps for individual zones, supplemental boilers, a plate and frame heat exchanger, a cooling tower, and piping for the circulation of water for the pumps and exchanger.

When it is cold, heat pumps from individual zones transfer the heat through the heat exchanger to the cooling tower which can make the area cooler. On the other hand, heat is emitted to individual zone heat pumps by the water circulation loop heated by boilers to make the area warmer. This feature transfers the heat from areas that need cooling into areas that need heating.

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