In active and passive cooling systems, a chilled beam is often used. There are two main types of chilled beams, an active chilled beam, and a passive chilled beam. These chilled beams offer heating and cooling services for larger areas, in particular, commercial spaces, making them perfectly viable commercial HVAC solutions for business owners.
What makes chilled beams a great heating and cooling solution for a commercial space?
For a commercial HVAC solution, much like their radiant counterparts, the heating and cooling in beam systems use water, and often air, to transport energy throughout the building. Although these systems are capable of matching more standard HVAC systems in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, due to its reliance on convection as a means to spread the energy throughout the environment, you will get a better spread of heating and cooling, leading to a more comfortable area with a more even temperature throughout the place.
What are the characteristics of a passive chilled beam?
Although several HVAC companies offer chilled beam solutions, today we’ll be taking Trane’s chilled beam system as an example. Trane’s passive chilled beam consists of a fin-and-tube heat exchanger, which is housed in a casing. The whole construct is then suspended from the ceiling. From here, chilled water passes through the tubes in the passive chilled beam. Therefore, when warm air in the room or area rises up, the chilled beam cools it and from there, by convection, the entire place is eventually filled with cool air. The passivity of the system comes from the fact that in order to transfer air, no additional fan is required, but rather, convection is the primary method of heat transfer. However, there is still an evaporating coil in the chilled beam which keeps the water cool, so that the air surrounding the pipe may be effectively cooled as well.
What are the features of an active chilled beam?
An active chilled beam is quite similar to the passive chilled beam, in the sense that it also consists of a fin-and-tube heat exchanger in the construction of the beam. An active chilled beam may reside within the ceiling, or just like the passive chilled beam, is suspended from the ceiling. The main difference between a passive chilled beam and an active chilled beam is the fact that there is an air supply with the active chilled beam, often called the primary air system. Here, the air passes through the nozzles located at the top of the beam. Due to the temperature difference between the room’s air and the air being provided, induction occurs and the are in the space is transferred up through the cooling coils in the chilled beam resulting in cool air. Due to this additional induction step, an active chilled beam is able to provide cool are for a larger space far better than a passive chilled beam.
How does a chilled beam handle finer temperature control as a commercial HVAC solution?
The nozzles which allow for airflow and water flow through the chilled beams allow for finer heating and cooling control. For instance, by passing hot water through the pipes in the passive chilled beam, a similar effect is created resulting in a warm space. And when cool air is required, cool water is passed through, resulting in cooler air. For fine-tuning the temperature in the room, different nozzles are capable of sustaining different water temperatures, that is, hot or cold water. Through this, it is possible to control the temperature of the space.
One of the main problems of a chilled beam, be it an active or passive one, is the fact that it does not have any condensate draining system. Therefore, as any AC repair specialist will tell you, the moist environment and possibility of stagnant drainage will often lead to molds breeding on the beam body. Hence, it is important to maintain a healthy cycle of AC maintenance & repair to ensure that no stagnant water collects on the body of the chilled beams and thereby does not damage the quality of the air. Apart from that, chilled beams are a great commercial HVAC solution.
See the summary of this content here in the infographic – Active VS Passive Commercial HVAC Solutions [Infographic]
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