Chilled Water Coil Circuiting Made Easy

Chilled Water Coil

Circuiting a chilled water coil is one of life’s great challenges in the coil business. You’re bound to run across folks with years of experience in the industry that can not effectively explain this concept. While not the most exciting of subjects, the necessity of circuiting chilled water coils can not be overstated. Capital Coil & Air has attempted to simplify the idea of circuiting as much as possible.

For starters, circuiting a chilled water coil is ultimately up to the performance of that coil. Circuiting is really a balancing act of tube velocity and pressure drop. In other words, think of a coil as a matrix. Each coil has a specific number of rows, and a specific number of tubes within each row. For example, a chilled water coil might be 36 inch fin height and 8 rows deep. The coil has 24 tubes in each row, and multiplied by 8 rows, there is a total of 192 tubes within the coil. While you can try to feed any number of tubes, there are only a few combinations that will work.

    • Feeding 1 tube – you will be making 192 passes through the coil, which will essentially require a pump the size of your car to make that process work.

 

    • Feeding 2 tubes – equates to 96 passes, and your pressure drop will still be enormous.

 

    • Feeding 3 tubes – 64 passes, which is still too many.

 

    • Feeding 4 tubes – See above.

 

    • Feeding 5 tubes – Impossible as 5 does not divide evenly into 192 (passes).

 

    • Feeding 6 tubes – Still constitutes far too many passes, which again leads to additional pressure drop.

 

    • Feeding 7 tubes – Same rule for feeding 5 tubes.

 

    • Feeding 8 tubes –  Same rule for feeding 6 tubes.

 

    • Feeding 24 tubes – This feed consists of 8 passes, which is in the ballpark, and with a pressure drop you can live with.

 

    • Feeding 32 tubes – 32 tubes will see 6 passes. You might see a slight decrease in performance, but it’s off-set by a continuously better pressure drop.

 

  • Feeding 48 tubes – The magic combination, as 4 passes typically elicits the best performance and pressure drop simultaneously.

Rule #1: The number of tubes that you feed must divide evenly into the number of tubes in the chilled water coil.

Rule #2: The chilled water coil must give you an even number of passes so that the connections end up on the same end.

Rule #3: Based on the number of passes, you must be able to live with the resulting pressure drop. Acceptable tube velocity with water is between 2 and 6 ft. per second.

You’re bound to run into different terminologies depending on the manufacturer. More times than not, the different verbiage confuses more than it clarifies. However, understanding the basic tenets of chilled water coil circuiting will remove much of the perceived difficulty.  Check out Capital Coil’s Chilled Water Coils product page.

 

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Differences Between Commercial & Industrial Coils??

The best performance you can get out of commercial coils is with copper tubes/aluminum fins. An extremely important fact to take into account is that when you change the materials of construction to an industrial coil, there’s always a drastic change in the performance. 

The explanation is really quite simple: when we build a stainless steel or 90/10 cupro-nickel coil, the materials don’t match up in terms of heat transfer to copper tubes/aluminum fins. So what does that mean? Using a chilled water coil as an example – you have a (4) row chilled water coil with copper tubes/aluminum fins, and you want to change to stainless steel. You will need to move to an (8) row coil to meet that same performance.                                                                                                                                                                          Commercial Coils

What conditions require these types of materials? The most common is with high pressure applications. Anything above 200 psig requires that you change construction materials from copper tube/aluminum fin to a special material that is able to work better under those conditions. The other instances are when you’re dealing with high temperatures or corrosive atmospheres. 

Capital Coil & Air manufactures and designs a wide assortment of heavy-duty industrial coils to withstand the environment of industrial applications.  Standard and custom designs are available for new and retrofit installations.  Our industrial coils are manufactured from quality materials that are heavier grades and thicknesses.  This ensures dependable performance and longevity, even under the most demanding conditions. While most manufacturers throw out astronomical prices or lead times that can better be explained as “months” rather than weeks, Capital Coil’s lead times are (4-5) weeks for cupro-nickel and (5) weeks for stainless steel.  

Whether it’s for boiler air preheating, pulp and paper drying process, lumber drying process, textile drying process, chemical heating process, Capital Coil & Air provides high quality industrial coils designed for easy maintenance and low operating costs.  With capabilities to build fluid coils for water, glycol, oil, and other liquids as well as refrigerant coils and steam coils for high pressures, we can easily meet all of your industrial coil requirements!

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Coils and Counter-flow: 5 Common Questions

1)  Coils and counter-flow?

The first thing to remember about coils and counter-flow is that chilled water coils are always built to be piped in counter-flow. This means that the air flows in the opposite direction as the water. For example, with counter-flow, the air flows through rows 1-8, while the water runs through rows 8-1. Water always travels through the coil in the opposite direction of the air; hence the term “counter-flow.”  Direct Expansion Coils (Evaporator Coils) are also piped in the same manner.

With that said, what happens when you do not pipe cooling coils counter-flow? Almost all coil selection programs you will see or use will be based on counter-flow conditions. If you opt to not counter-flow a chilled water coil, you’ll have to reduce the coil’s overall performance by a certain percentage. That percentage reduction varies based on each coil’s unique dimensions, but a reliable estimate is a loss of 8-12%. Simply piping the coils in the correct manner from the beginning would seem to be the easiest and most cost-effective solution.

2)  Why do you feed from the bottom of the coil?

Counter-Flow

You always want to feed a water coil from the bottom connection so that the header fills from the bottom on up and feeds every tube connection evenly. All tubes must be fed evenly with the same amount of water. If you try to feed the header from the top, you greatly increase the risk of “short circuiting” the coil and having a higher water flow through the top tubes in the coil.

3)  What is a Water Hammer in a Steam Coil?

On a long Steam Coil, you will be hard pressed to get the steam through the length of the coil. Slowly but surely, that steam converts into condensate, which is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to any system. If not evacuated, the condensate just lays in the coil when the system is shut off. This problem comes into play when the steam is turned back on and meets the condensate laying inside the coil. In addition to the noise, the steam and condensate cause huge amounts of additional stress on the coil’s joints. As a result, over time, your coil will inevitably fail.

4)  What else happens if you do not evacuate condensate?

When you cannot or do not evacuate the condensate on long steam coils, the condensate ends up blocking the steam. A steam coil should never feel cool to the touch, but when condensate blocks steam, one part of the coil will be warm while the other will be cool. Again, that should not happen. Steam coils are interesting in that they are more dependent upon the system and installation than any other type of coil. A steam coil must be pitched to the return end of the coil. Obviously, steam is not water.Traps, vacuum breakers and other steam accessories must be installed and located properly for the system to function.

5)  Is it necessary to pipe steam and/or hot water coils in counter-flow?

Simply put – no! Circuiting a coil is only necessary to ensure the connections are on the side of the coil that you want. The rows and tubes in the coil dictate how and where you feed, but the steam supply always needs to be the high connection. This method ensures that the leaving condensate is on the bottom of the coil and below the lowest tube within the coil. Whatever else you do, know that the condensate must leave the coil!

If you have any questions or need assistance with ordering and/or installation, please contact a sales engineer at Capital Coil & Air. We will walk with you step-by-step through your entire project should you require any assistance. CALL OR E-MAIL US!  We look forward to the opportunity to work with you on your future projects.

 

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