Guidelines For Air Velocities

The height, length and resulting air velocities greatly figure in everything in determining the size and performance of a coil. Step # 1 in determining the size and performance of a coil is dependent upon understanding face & air 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

Air Velocities

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 Is Fin Design On HVAC Replacement Coils Important?

Replacement HVAC Coils

At first glance, fin designs on HVAC replacement 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 replacement 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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