Why Are Fin Designs 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 designs 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.

RELATED POSTS

Repair or Replacement Coils?

Top 5 Reasons HVAC Coils Prematurely Fail

Are You Asking Your Coil Supplier These Questions?

 


Condenser Coils Failing? Here’s probably why….

Did you recently turn on your DX systems only to find your Condenser Coils are not working?  Simple fix right?  Unfortunately, no.  If you get lucky, you can send us the model number of the unit, and there’s a great chance we’ve already built it.  In the case that we do not have that model number on file, you have two options.  You can go back to the OEM and wait (5) months for a part while paying through the roof.  Or you call Capital Coil, and we’ll walk you through the engineering it takes to replace a condenser coil.                                                                      Condenser Coil

Very rarely do condenser coils ever freeze so the first thing you’re going to want to know is if your coil died of corrosion, old age, or possibly vibration.  Old age is obviously preferable because with a few easy dimensions, we’ll have enough to price up your duplicate coil.  Condenser coils are usually outside and are easily accessible for measurements and digital pictures.  With just the size, the rows, and fins/inch, you can get a price.  And digital pictures of the headers and return bends will give us a good idea of the circuiting and sub-cooler circuits. 

If the coil has been eaten away by corrosion, it was an improper design to begin with.  Most people don’t know that salt in the air will ruin aluminum fins within a year or two.  There are two ways to combat this.  The first option is to make the switch to copper fins and stainless steel casings.  While this will extend the life of your coil considerably, most people are not too happy about the additional cost over aluminum fins.  The second option is to use a coating.  Coatings are the much more popular choice.  They are a fraction of the cost as copper fins and only add one week to your lead time. 

When your HVAC coils are installed near a moving piece of equipment, vibration can occur and cause leaks.  The area where these leaks occur is very important and will clue you in to if the problem is vibration.  If they are near the tube sheet and look like they are slicing through the tube, 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.

The last concern is with cleaning condenser coils.  Since condenser coils see outside air almost exclusively, they need to be cleaned more than other coils.  The reason for this is most condenser coils have fin spacing of 12-20 fins/inch.  With fins that tight together, the coil can and will act like a filter.  And when the coil is clogged up, the performance suffers greatly.  Recently, we’ve been getting more and more calls about using a heavier fin thickness.  This is to help with high pressure cleaning and corrosive cleaning agents. 

When dealing with an HVAC coil manufacturer, 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 has seen every issue to make sure your everything from the quote to the installation go smoothly! Give us a try on your next project!

RELATED POSTS

Top 5 Reasons HVAC Coils Prematurely Fail

You should never have to worry about performance on replacement coils. Well… almost never!

Repair or Replacement HVAC Coils?