Different Types of Steam Coils?

There are two types of steam coils:  standard steam coil, which is used in most reheat applications, and steam distributing coils, which are used in applications where the entering air temperature is below 40 F degrees.  Many times, this type of coil is known as a “non-freeze” coil, but that name is very misleading because there is no such thing as “non-freeze”. 

Standard Steam

Standard steam coils operate a lot like hot water coils, but the construction is very different even though the coils may appear to be constructed the same.  The supply and return connections are often on the same end like a hot water coil.  But, steam is very different than hot water and the coil must be built for steam and circuited for steam.  Steam is always more erosive than hot water.  The brazing and tube wall thickness must account for steam. ALWAYS remember that even low pressure steam is more erosive than hot water and a steam coil needs to be built accordingly.

Steam Distributing (Non-Freeze)

Steam distributing coils are a completely different coil because they are built with a tube within a tube construction. Every place that you see an outside tube or header, there is an inside tube and header that you can’t see. The steam on the inner tube keeps the condensate in the outer tube from freezing.  The purpose of the Steam Coiloriginal coil design was to distribute the steam evenly along the length of the coil and to eliminate and dead spots on the coil.  A byproduct of this coil was also found.  The coils didn’t freeze nearly as easily as the standard steam coil., so the coils became known as “non-freeze”, which as mentioned, is not totally correct.  Any coil can freeze under the right conditions.  But, this design is what needs to be used when the entering air is under 40F degrees. 

Steam Coil Design

Steam coil designs can be very tricky.  Steam coils are totally a function of the system and installation while other coils operate more independently of the system.  There needs correctly designed traps, and they need to be installed in the right place and depth in the system.  Often, vacuum breakers are also needed in the system.  The piping must be installed correctly to make sure the steam in entering the coil and not the condensate.  Even with all of those factors, you need a correctly designed steam coil that matches the steam pressure, length of the coil, and the entering air temperature.  Coils can freeze easily.  Coils can be too long in length and the steam cannot travel the length of the coil and distribute evenly.  Condensate can easily be trapped somewhere in the coil and the result is water hammer. 

Capital Coil & Air has years of experience designing steam coils, and is here to answer any questions and help to design the right coil for your project! 

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HEATING SEASON WILL SOON BE UPON US

 


HEATING SEASON WILL SOON BE UPON US

The real ability and competency in selecting hot water coils or any other heating coil is to know and understand the products that are available. Our goal here is to help simplify your selection process. Just as you’d spend time researching cars before a purchase, you want to be as educated of a buyer as possible!Hot Water Coil

HOT WATER COILS

The HVAC industry classifies coils as “Hot Water” if they are (1) or (2) rows deep, and “Chilled Water” if the coil is (3) to (10) rows deep. One important fact to remember is that whether the water is hot or cold, a water coil is still just a water coil. Just because you do not need as many rows for hot water applications, all water coils are built the same. Tubes can be 5/8 ” copper or 1/2 ” copper, and water can travel through the coil’s tubes at temperatures up to 200˚F. Capital Coil’s selection program is very user-friendly and can greatly assist in your selection process.

STANDARD STEAM COILS

While steam coils look very similar to water coils, the construction and circuiting of the coil are usually very different. Specifically, the brazing for the tubes and headers has a higher percentage of silver solder in the brazing. The tubes are generally thicker (.025”), and the circuiting of the coil minimizes the passes to allow for easy condensate removal. Unless you have (2) PSI or (5) PSI steam, hot water coils and steam coils are not interchangeable! Steam pressure is extremely important to take into account.

STEAM DISTRIBUTING COILS  “NON-FREEZE”

The construction of a “non-freeze” coil is completely different than that of a water coil or standard steam coil. Steam Distributing coils are manufactured as a tube within a tube. This application should always be used when the entering air temperature on a coil is 40˚F or below. There are (2) types of designs for steam distributing coils. They can be constructed with 5/8” (outer-tube) / 3/8” (inner-tube)  &  1” (outer-tube) / 5/8” (inner-tube).  A Capital Coil sales rep is always available to help with proper selections.

HOT WATER BOOSTER COILS

Hot water booster coils are primarily used in duct applications for reheat purposes. In addition to hot water, booster coils can also be used for low pressure steam. The best part is that Capital Coil has a standard (1) week lead time for booster coils. We value speed and quality as much as you.

Capital Coil manufactures all of the above for whatever heating application you may need. All coils are also available on our quick-ship program – if you need your coil built in 3, 5, or 10 days. Capital Coil & Air welcomes the chance to work with you, and be your source for quick answers and immediate service. Please give us a call on your next project!

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Tired Of Wondering If Quick-Ships Will Be Available When You Need Them Most?

With summer seemingly flying by, chances are that you have been getting urgent requests by customers to order replacement coils and have them installed within very tight windows. You’ll run into this with schools for example when, understandably, they’d like to handle everything during the summer break. If that happens, what next? You can call the OEM, but more times than not, they are not flexible or nimble enough to handle your request/emergency within the allotted time-frame. DX Coil

Why is this? Many manufacturers take on a glut of OEM business, or other large projects with small profit margins. In many cases they do this simply to keep the factory running during the slower periods of the year. This has the effect of delaying standard lead times, and in many cases, cancelling quick-ships altogether. It is very hard to do business with companies that make themselves unavailable when you need them the most.

Other cases may simply be logistical. For example, an OEM might be transferring plant locations. They will eventually get back online, but how does that help you in your current “emergency” situation?

Quick-ships are generally based on emergency conditions, and that is precisely the worst time to discover that your regular supplier has suspended their quick-ships. When we call Capital Coil reliable and dependable, one of the main reasons is because of our ability to keep our quick-ship program open 12 months/year. Capital Coil does not try to be all things to all customers, but quick-ships are an integral part of our business. Keeping our quick-ship program available all year is a top priority, and this has allowed us to hit 99.9% of our quick-ship requests over the last (3) years – an unfortunate forklift mistake makes up the other .1%. 5.5 months into 2019, approximately 75% of all orders have been quick-ships, and they have either all been completed on time, or are 100% on schedule.

An RFQ that sits on a desk unanswered is useless to everyone involved. If you need a quote, you’ll have your price and any required submittals that same day. It really is that simple and easy! Working with Capital Coil removes many of the annoying and unannounced shut-downs that come with other manufacturers, so please let us help you when you need it the most!

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Top 5 Reasons Commercial HVAC Coils Prematurely Fail

  • Commercial HVAC CoilsCoil Plugging: If you are not changing filters and/or your commercial HVAC coils are not properly cleaned in a timely manner, your coil will actually begin to act as a filter. When dirt builds up on the coil, that blockage prevents heat transfer and can cause an approximate 20% to 40% drop in performance. Dirt adds to the coil resistance and can be a primary cause for your coil to fail prematurely.
  • Vibration: When your HVAC coils are installed near a moving piece of equipment, vibration can occur and cause leaks. You can tell if vibration is the main cause if leaks are near the tube sheet and look like they are slicing through the tube. If/when that happens, the coils should be isolated from the rest of the system to prevent vibration from causing damage. One way to combat this is by oversizing the tubesheet holes, but many manufacturers will not do this. Condenser Coils are usually the most common victims of vibration.
  • Corrosive Environment: This applies to both the air in the environment and inside the tubes. For instance, if there is a corrosive element in the air, it will eat away at the copper tubes; whether you have 0.020” wall or 0.049” wall. This is very common in coastal areas where there may be salt in the air. To keep the costs down from going to a stainless steel or cupro-nickel coil, we usually suggest coating the HVAC coils. Coatings are almost always within your budget, and its application will only add about a week to the overall lead time. Steam condensate and untreated water can cause corrosion within the tubes of HVAC coils as well. If you have a steam coil that has failed before the one year warranty, there’s a great chance that corrosive agents are in the steam, and it’s eating away at the copper tubes.
  • Freeze-Ups: Most people think that when HVAC coils freeze, the water or condensate laying in the coil freezes into ice and it expands causing the tubes to bulge and eventually spring leaks. What really happens is that the coil will freeze in multiple areas simultaneously, and it’s the pressure between these areas that cause the tubes to swell and eventually burst. These are very easy to spot as the leaks will run the length of the tube rather than around the tube.  ALSO be very careful when considering “freeze-proof” coils!  If you remove 5-6 inches from the fin length to make the “freeze-proof” application fit, your coil’s performance will suffer considerably. 
  • System Design: You would be amazed to learn how many HVAC coils were never designed properly for their systems. If there is a design problem, replacing the coil will only waste time and money; while you have done nothing other than duplicate the previous problem. A little known fact in the replacement market is that a high percentage of all our projects are because the coils were built incorrectly or were never designed correctly in the first place. In some cases, owners attempt to improve the coil’s performance by adding additional rows. Most however do this without taking into account the air pressure drop or fluid pressure drop that comes with it.

When dealing with an HVAC coil manufacturer, try to partner up with one who will walk you through the engineering and explain it along the way. Capital Coil & Air has well over a decade of experience and can help you diagnose whatever problem that you are experiencing correctly the first time. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

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Why Is Fin Design On HVAC Coils Important?

HVAC Coils

At first glance, fin designs on HVAC coils seem about as exciting as watching grass grow. “Why would I ever care about fin design on any coil” was probably your initial response to our question. Nevertheless, we would not dedicate a newsletter to this subject if fins were not important.

One of the primary reasons fins are so important is that you want to keep your coil as clean and maintained as possible. In order to properly maintain your coil, you need to have an understanding as to how HVAC coils are constructed. While fins do not look like much, they are MUCH more complicated than what you can observe at the entering or leaving airside of the coil.

To begin, fins are responsible for a surprising 65% – 70% of the heat transfer on any coil, while tubes are responsible for the remaining 30% – 35%. Additionally, in order for your coil to work at optimum performance, you need to have a terrific fin/tube bond, (which we will discuss below).

  1. Fins are known as secondary surface, while tubes are referred to as primary surface. While this may seem counter-intuitive, the secondary surface is responsible for twice the amount of heat transfer as the primary surface.
  2. There are special dies (see picture) that stamp out aluminum or copper fins with the correct thickness, height, and depth to make the coil the correct size. For example, a coil might be 36” (height) x 96” (length) x (8) rows deep x 8 fins/inch.
    1. Fin Height: 36”
    2. Fin Depth: 12”, (8) rows deep
    3. # of fins in the coil: 768 (8 fins x 96”)
  3. Each fin has 192 holes stamped in the fin for 5/8” OD tubes (8 Rows x 24 Tubes), and each fin is identical.
  4. Each hole has extruded metal, which is more commonly referred to as the fin collar. The collars are sized to self-space the fins and allow for later expansion of the tube into the fin collar. This practice is also known as “bonding” and is essential to having your coil run efficiently/correctly.
  5. Each fin is rippled at the entering and leaving edge of the fin to help create air turbulence.
  6. Each fin is corrugated in the direction of airflow to allow for greater air turbulence. This is important to remember because turbulence creates heat transfer.

So again, what is the point of understanding the importance of fins in HVAC coils? While coils can be built with flat fins for various reasons, the vast majority of coils are built with enhanced fins. Enhanced fins help to ensure that the airflow is not running straight through the coil.

Regardless of fin type, keep in mind that HVAC coils can and will act as great “filters”. The tubes are staggered and not in-line; while the fins are designed to help break up the airflow and not facilitate an easy, straight-through air path. Dirt and/or other particles in the air get caught easily, which again, is why coils can act as great filters. Additionally, coils with more rows will usually get dirtier than coils with less rows. Lastly, chilled water or DX coils are typically wet coils, which results in them catching virtually everything in the air.

The amount of BTU’s through any coil is in direct proportion to the amount of air through the coil. For example, if you are only getting 90% of the design air through the coil, then you are only getting 90% of the BTU’s.

Coils require good filtration and periodic maintenance. If not done correctly, you’ll pay the price of higher energy costs on an inefficient coil.

By now, you have hopefully come to the realization that HVAC coils are much more complicated than they appear, and that fins are an integral part of the coil as a whole. Again, while admittedly not the most exciting topic, understanding the role and importance of fins in HVAC coils cannot be overstated. Capital Coil & Air is here to help you with any and all coil selections, and we look forward to working with you on your next project.

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Guidelines For Air Velocities

Step # 1 in determining the size and performance of a coil is dependent upon understanding face velocities of air across the coil. Whether you use CCA’s coil selection program to help size the coil, or you are replacing an existing coil; the height, length and resulting velocity determine everything.

Hot Water Booster Coils

Hot Water Coils

Every coil has a specific, optimum velocity, so you want to make sure you are within 30% (+ or -) of that number. For example, booster coils have an optimum velocity of 800 ft/minute. That means that you can drop your velocity to 600 ft/minute, or conversely, increase the velocity to 1,000 ft/minute. The duct velocities are almost always higher, which means that you will need to transition to a larger coil. Try to get to as close to 800 ft/minute as possible, while sizing your coil to make the transition as easy as possible. Everything with coils is a balancing act.

Hot Water & Steam Coils

Like booster coils, hot water and steam coils should also have face velocities at approximately 800 ft/minute. Both steam & hot water coils have only sensible heating, which is why their face velocities can be the same. Face velocities ultimately control the coil’s cost, so 800 ft/minute really is a heating coil’s “sweet spot”.

If you are purchasing an air handler unit, oftentimes the heating coil is smaller than the cooling coil because the face velocities on heating coils can exceed those of cooling coils. Due to water carry-over, cooling coils cannot exceed 550 ft/minute, while heating coils only deal with sensible heat.

Chilled Water & DX Coils

Due to the limited face velocities of cooling coils, your choices are more limited. With cooling coils, your face velocity must be somewhere between 500 ft/minute-550 ft/minute. Remember that when dealing with cooling coils, you are dealing with both sensible and latent cooling, so the coil is wet. When you exceed 550 ft/minute, water carry-over occurs past the drain pans.

If you are purchasing an air handler unit, you probably will not have worry about the coil’s face velocity as most coils come pre-sized at the acceptable face velocities. Fan coils also come pre-sized with the correct CFM’s. However, if you are replacing an existing cooling coil, the face velocity must remain at or below 550 ft/minute!!

 Air Stratification Across The Coil

Air does not travel equally across the face of a coil. If you were to divide a coil into (9) equal sections, like a tic-tac-toe board, you would see a high percentage of air travelling through the center square, rather than the corner squares. In a perfect air flow scheme, 11% of the air would travel through each of the 9 squares, but that is not what happens. Because more air travels through the center of the coil, you want to avoid putting a fan too near the coil. Due to central air flows, most systems are draw-thru, rather than blow-thru. This is also why you want to avoid installing your coil near any 90 degree angles/turns in the ductwork. Avoid any situations that contribute more than the “natural” air stratification to help ensure your coil is at maximum efficiency.

In some situations involving cooling coils, you will have water carry-over even when the coil is sized correctly. How can this happen? Think about the tic-tac-toe board again. Air velocities are exceeding 700 ft/minute in the coil’s center, while the corners are around 300 ft/minute. This cannot and will not work.

Coils do not have any moving parts. They simply react to the air across the outside of the coil and whatever is running through the inside of the coil. Coils are 100% a function of your entire system, as well as the installation in general.

Capital Coil & Air is here to help with any coil selections that will help avoid costly missteps that lead to wasted time and money. Call us on your next project, we greatly look forward to working with you!

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Why are HVAC Coils Copper Tube and Aluminum Fin?

It’s really not a coincidence why HVAC coils use copper tubes and aluminum fins. Copper is great for heat transfer, and aluminum – while still very effective -is simply not as good. The first goal ofChilled Water Coils any HVAC coil is to cool or heat. Heat transfer is always the first consideration. Cost is the second. Copper works well for the tubes, but would be prohibitive for the fins. You would need a compelling reason for the fins to be copper, and sometimes there are reasons to do just that. However, the vast majority of HVAC coils that you see are built with copper tubes and aluminum fins. That combination offers the most effective heat transfer at the most efficient cost. 

To begin, fins are responsible for a surprising 65% – 70% of the heat transfer on any coil, while tubes are responsible for the remaining 30% – 35%. Additionally, in order for your coil to work at optimum performance, you need to have a terrific fin/tube bond. Fins are known as secondary surface, while tubes are referred to as primary surface. While this may seem counterintuitive, the secondary surface is responsible for twice the amount of heat transfer as the primary surface.

The tubes are expanded into the fins, and for that reason, the fins become secondary. As mentioned above, the fins are responsible for 65% – 70% of all heat transfer that takes place in the HVAC coil.  When you think about it logically, it really makes sense. At 8 fins/inch or 10 fins/inch, and with fins that run the height and depth of the coil, there is much more fin surface than tube surface. However, it also points out how good the fin/tube bond must be in the expansion process. Without that bond, the fins cannot perform their job.

Understanding the role and importance of the materials used in HVAC coils cannot be overstated. There is a distinct reason why the vast majority of coils are constructed using these materials. While coils can be built with other tube materials, such as steel, 304/316 stainless steel, 90/10 cupro-nickel, as well as various different fin materials, none of these are as efficient or economical as copper/aluminum.

Capital Coil & Air is here to help you with any and all coil selections, and we look forward to working with you on your next project.

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