What Is Meant By A “Bank” Of Water Coils?

For those that work with HVAC installations on a regular basis, you have run across the problem of needing to install new water coils in very tight, confined areas. The coil is too big to fit in the Chilled Water Coilselevator, and/or the HVAC room is so small that you are likely to damage the coil simply by moving it. As a solution to this challenge, chilled water coils are often installed in “banks” of coils. You are most likely to see this configuration in Air Handler Units, as well as “built-up” systems. Due to face velocity limitations across the coil, you will need larger coils in order to meet your required face area. With this in mind, there are a few specific reasons why you want to avoid having a single, large coil in one of your units.  Starting with the obvious: larger coils are much more difficult to transfer and install. This is especially true for older buildings, where the rooms were essentially built around the HVAC system.

As you’ve probably experienced, some of these areas can barely fit a single person, so installation – if even possible – is a logistical nightmare. Also, the larger the coil, the easier it is to damage during transport to the jobsite. To avoid these issues, simply break down the single, larger coil into smaller coils. When piped together, those smaller coils are stacked into “banks” of coils in the system. If installed correctly, this “bank” should have the same performance as the larger, single coil.

Casing

There are many different casing options available, but “stackable” flanges are required for heavy chilled water coils that are “banked”. The flanges are often inverted inward and down to give added strength to the casing, which is needed due to the fact that another coil of equal weight will be stacked on top of it. When ordering coils in a “bank” configuration, be sure to let the manufacturer know that they will be “stacked”.

Many engineers also use stainless steel casings on chilled water coils. While more expensive than traditional galvanized steel, stainless steel protects against excessively wet coils and/or corrosive elements in the airstream. Keep in mind that the majority of coils fail because of old age and its casing, as opposed to failure with the coil’s core. With that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to select heavy-duty stainless steel casings that are more durable and meant for stackable installations?

Drain Pans & Water Carryover

Water Coils

All chilled water coils must be sized so that the face velocity across the coil does not exceed 550 ft/minute. Water on the outside of the coil is carried away from the coil’s leaving air side in an arc, while water in the highest point of the coil is carried further down the unit or ductwork. “Stackable” coils often require intermediate drain pans under each coil to catch the excess water carryover. Each coil in a bank requires its own drain pan, as a single, large pan under the bottom coil is not enough.

Circuiting/GPM

If all of the coils in a “bank” are of equal size and handling the same CFM, then the GPM of each coil will also be the same.

Always feed the bottom connection on the supply header on the leaving air side of the coil. This ensures counter air and water flow. This also prevents the coil from short circuiting because the header fills first and circuits all of the tubes equally.

Designing Banks Of Coils

Almost all coil “banks” perform more efficiently if you design something more square in shape, as opposed to long and/or high. In a “bank” of coils, you may find that one coil has points of 300 ft/minute, with other points at 800 ft/minute. Scenarios such as this will cause water-carryover! You generally want to be as close to 550 ft/minute as possible in order to allow equal airflow distribution across the face area of the coil.

Anytime you are designing and/or building coils, work closely with the manufacturer as an added resource to ensure that you are getting the ideal solution for your HVAC system. Capital Coil & Air works on similar jobs such as these daily, and we welcome the opportunity to work with you in whatever capacity is needed.

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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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