What Does “Splitting” A DX (Evaporator) Coil Mean?
by Dan Jacobs, August 13, 2019
“Splitting” a DX (Evaporator) coil is one of the toughest concepts to understand in the coil business. “Splitting” the coil simply means that (2) compressors can operate off of the same coil. One obvious advantage, or reason that you might “split” a DX coil is that you can shut down (1) of the compressors when the cooling load does not require it. This in turn saves energy, which saves $ when the cooling load is not operating at maximum design conditions. For example, let’s use a coil that is designed to give you (40) tons, but the coil is split so that (2) 20-ton compressors are feeding the same coil. If you only require ½ of the maximum load on any given day, you can shut down (1) compressor completely and operate the other one at 100%. This is a money-saving feature that you need to be aware of if you deal with DX coils on a regular basis. This requires special circuiting arrangements, and this is where the confusion starts with most folks. There are three primary ways to deal with this:
Splitting the coil is nothing more than putting (2) completely separate fin/tube packs (coils) into one common casing. When you hear the term “face-splitting” a coil, you are drawing a horizontal line from left to right across the face of the coil and dividing the coil into a top and bottom half. It is like having two separate coils in one casing in that each half is circuited by itself. You hook up (1) compressor for the top half, and (1) compressor for the bottom.
In practice, this configuration is no longer used with much frequency because this arrangement leads to air being directed across the entire face of the coil. This disadvantage is especially apparent when only one half of the coil is in use because you’ll need a complicated damper/duct system to ensure that air is only directed to that portion of the coil in operation.
“Row splitting” a coil is dividing the coil by drawing a line vertically and putting some portion of the total rows in (1) circuit, while putting the remaining rows in the other circuit. With this configuration, the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and will always pass across the rows that are in operation.
Please be aware that this configuration also comes with certain issues in that this kind of split makes it very hard to achieve a true 50/50 split. Let’s use an (8) row coil as an example. You would like to “row split” this coil with (4) rows/circuit, which would appear to be a perfect 50/50 split. The problem here is that the first (4) rows, located closest to the entering air, pick up a much higher portion of the load than the last (4) rows. In actuality, this coil’s split is closer to 66% / 34%, which will not match the 50/50 compressors. Another option is try to split the coil between (3) & (5) rows. While not 50/50 either, this configuration is closer. However, a new challenge arises because you have now created a coil that is very difficult to build and correctly circuit. In short, you need almost perfect conditions along with a degree of luck to achieve a true 50/50 split using this method.
The most common to split coils today is to “intertwine” the circuiting. This means that every alternate tube in the coil is included in (1) circuit, while the other tubes are included in the (2nd) circuit. For example, tubes 1, 3,5,7,9, etc. in the first row are combined with tubes 2, 4, 6,8,10, etc. in the second row. The same tubes in succeeding rows form (1) circuit. You are essentially including every alternate tube in the entire coil into (1) circuit, which (1) compressor will operate. All of the remaining tubes not included in the first circuit will now encompass the second circuit.
The advantage of this configuration is that the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and, if one of the compressors is on, there are always tubes in operation. Every split is now exactly 50/50 because it cannot be any other way. Most DX coils are now configured in this manner due to these advantages.
Capital Coil & Air has years of experience measuring, designing and building almost every OEM DX coil that you’ll come across, so please let us help you on your next project. We want to be your replacement coil experts and look forward to the opportunity.