Chilled Water Coils – Circuiting Made Easy

Chilled Water Coil

Circuiting chilled water coils 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 chilled water coils is ultimately up to the performance of those coils. 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.  

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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?

DX Coils

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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10 Things To Know About Chilled Water Coils

Chilled Water Coil

1. Hot or chilled water coils are still water coils. There is really no difference between hot water coils and a chilled water coils in construction. Hot water coils are usually 1 or 2 rows and chilled water coils are usually 3 to 12 rows deep.

2. The vast majority of chilled water coils are constructed from either 1/2″ OD tubes or 5/8″ OD tubes. A lot of that depends on the tooling of the original equipment manufacturer and what is more economical. Either size can be used and substituted for each other, which makes replacing your coil that much easier.

3. 1/2″ Tubes are on 1.25″ center to center distance. 5/8″ tubes are on 1.5″ center to center distance. For example, if a chilled water coil has a 30″ fin height, there will be (24) 1/2″ tubes per row or (20) 5/8″ tubes per row. The tube area of the coil is remarkably the same. They are almost interchangeable.

4. The quality of the coil often times is directly tied to the tube thickness. Many installations have water not treated properly or tube velocities that are too high. There are few perfect installations in real life. Increasing the tube wall thickness on a chilled water coil is a great way to ensure longer life.

5. Fins make great filters! Of course, they are not designed to be filters, but it happens. You can make any coil cheaper by making them 14 fins/inch with less rows rather than 8 or 10 fins/inch. Just remember that deep coils are very difficult to clean. Cheap is not the way to go most of the time!

6. Fins are designed for maximum heat transfer. They are much more complicated in design than they appear to be when looking at the chilled water coil. They are rippled on the edge to break up the air. They are corrugated throughout the depth of the fin. The tubes are staggered from row to row and the fin collars are extended. All of this to maximize heat transfer. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this is the fins can end up being great filters. Be careful in the design of any chilled water coil.

7. Fins are aluminum for a reason! They give you great heat transfer at an economical cost. You need a compelling reason to switch to copper fins as copper is very expensive, and you’re likely to double (or maybe triple) the cost of the coil. Coatings are popular for this very reason.

8. Many chilled water coils are built with 304 stainless steel casings. The casings are stronger, they last longer, they are stackable, and it’s fairly inexpensive. After all, what is the point of building the best coil possible and have the casing disintegrate over time around the coil? Sometimes, it’s money well spent!

9. Circuiting the coil is the tricky part of any coil. Circuiting is nothing more than the number of tubes that you want to feed from a header. There are two rules. You must keep the water velocity over 1 foot/second and below 6 feet/second. 3-4 feet/second is optimum. The second is the number of tubes that you feed must divide evenly into the number of tubes in the coil.

10. Replacing  your chilled water coil is easy. Rarely do you have to worry about the performance. When you replace a 20 year old coil, it is dirty and the fin/tube bond is not good. The coil is probably operating at 1/2 of its capacity at best. When you put a new coil on the job, your performance will automatically be terrific. Your main concern is now making the sure the coil physically fits in the space allowed. And always have this in the back of your mind: Smaller is always better than too large. Smaller you can always work with, whereas too large makes for a very ugly and expensive coffee table.

There you have it – everything you need to know about chilled water coils. Interested in learning more, please reach out to Capital Coil & Air! We look forward to the opportunity to be your coil replacement specialists!

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Top 10 Chilled Water Coil Facts

Every Chilled Water Coil selection is about balance. Your coil selection balances the rows/fins versus the cost of the coil pressure drops/performance. Trying to cut corners on your initial selection may save you money upfront, but you will inevitably pay it back down the line through added energy costs. This is a truism for every manufactured coil.

  1. Fins cost less money than rows/tubes. A good cost-cutting tool when selecting a coil is to choose 14 fins/inch. This will turn your (8) row coil into a (6) row coil, which will dramatically lower your costs. If you choose to go this route, one thing to keep in mind is that 14 fins/inch will be semi-inconvenient to any maintenance crew tasked with cleaning the coil. Don’t expect a Christmas card from them that year.
  2. That raises the question of whether or not you can even clean a deep (6) or (8) row coil? In short, you can, but it is not easy. Chilled water coils are especially difficult to clean because they are almost always wet. Due to this fact, they typically attract dirt and additional particles that other coils do not. Generally, when cleaning a coil, most of the dirt get pushed to the middle, and for that reason, 14 fins/inch may not be the best idea after all. Chilled Water Coils
  3. Did you know that fins do approximately 70% of the heat transfer in a chilled water coil, while the tubes are only responsible for the remaining 30%? This is precisely why the fin/tube bond is so important. Without a perfectly crafted fin/tube bond, coils become inefficient very quickly. You pay for that inefficiency through increased energy costs.
  4. How long does a coil last? At what age can I expect my coil to fail? Unfortunately, there is no single answer to either question. Everything is dependent on a combination of maintenance, duty, and numerous other factors. If your initial selection was correctly chosen, and proper maintenance was kept, 15-20 years is a good timeframe.
  5. You may have a situation where your coil is 20 years old, and everything appears to be operating in good condition. There are no leaks and all looks ok. However, over that length of time, what you don’t see is that the fins have thinned and are no longer bonded to the tubes, and the coil is dirty in places that you cannot see. Again, while the coil may look to be running in top form, it’s probably only running at 60% capacity. Most likely, the tubes have also thinned over time, so when the next deep freeze occurs, you can guess the likely outcome.
  6. You really need to replace the coil, but have been told to make do with the current coil? To make up for the lack of efficiency, you might try to “jury-rig” your system. One method is to change the drive on the fans to deliver more CFM. This increases the air pressure drop, which in turn increases motor brake horsepower. Another option to help increase the coil’s efficiency is to lower the temperature of the chilled water from the chiller. We tend to mess with the system and apply temporary Band-Aids, when replacing the coil is the only guaranteed long-term solution.
  7. If you want to spend money wisely on a chilled water coil, simply make the tubes thicker. The tube thickness for a 5/8” tube coil is .020” thick, so increase the tube thickness to .025”. The same applies for a ½” tube coil, with a tube thickness of .016”. Increase it to .020”. By doing this, you get the added bonus of making your return bends thicker, which also helps to extend the life of the coil.
  8. Not quite sure about circuiting on a chilled water coil? You are going to have a hard time making an accurate selection unless you understand how to circuit a coil. Circuiting is really nothing more than selecting the number of tubes that you want to feed, and how many passes the water makes through the coil – depending on your GPM. Circuiting is one of the most important factors in ensuring that your coil is running at peak-performance.
  9. Curious about the balance between cost, size, materials, and maintenance? Every chilled water coil needs to be maintained for its entire life-span. If you’ve made your selection, and something seems off about the coils, chances are mistakes were made during the selection process. Some indicators include the coil being too big for the space allowed, or incurring out of control energy costs. What is the point of saving $500 on a chilled water coil if you have to spend $5,000 in maintenance over its life-span?

As coil replacement experts, we run into this issue every day. Our goal is to work with you to ensure your selections are correct the first time. The person in charge of budgets will be grateful to you over time. Capital Coil & Air welcomes the opportunity to work with you on your next coil project! We want to be your coil replacement specialists.

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

For those that work with HVAC installations on a regular basis, you have run across the problem of needing to install new chilled 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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Coil Costs: What Will Make Your HVAC Coils More Expensive?

We get questions all the time about how we build our HVAC coils, and what will add costs and what will not. This post will address the many inaccuracies other “mass production” manufacturers Hot Water Coilshave put out there. It’s very simple. There are only three areas on a coil that will add costs: the casing, the tubing, and the fins. Now we’ll deal with the many inaccuracies that most manufacturers try and “upsell” to you.

  • Connection sizes: There should be no additional cost switching from a 2” MPT connection to a 3” MPT connection. Only on rare cases with a 4” or 5” connection, should you ever see an adder in price.
  • Pitching the casing in a steam coil: All steam coils should be pitched. There is not some mysterious adder you need to pay to have you coil built the right way.
  • Casing depth and dimensions: Whether you want your coil 4” deep or 8“ deep, or want a 2” flange instead of a 1” flange, there should be no cost associated with simply more sheet metal.
  • Distributors on a DX Coil. This is our favorite. We actually had a call from a contractor who asked how much extra it was to get a distributor on his DX Coil. Distributors come standard with DX coils!
  • Flanges for “stackable” coils. This is just standard practice to meet the needs of your customer.

Coil Casing Adders: Most HVAC coils we manufacture are built with 16 ga. galvanized steel casing. We offer 3 other options that are slightly more expensive, but it all depends on your application if any of them are actually needed. Stainless steel casings are used in a corrosive atmosphere and are the most expensive option (even then, it’s only 10-15% more). 14 ga. galvanized steel casings are used primarily in coil banks where you might have between 2-4 coils stacked on one another. This adder for 14 ga. casing is only roughly 2-3% per coil.

Tubing Adders: There are many materials options in tubing and we offer all of them. Whether you need stainless steel, carbon steel, cupro-nickel, or standard copper tubes, we can build exactly what you need. Like any product, the more unusual the material, the more expensive the cost is. For most jobs with just copper tubes, adding a thicker tube wall will add only 10-15% in cost to the job and could double the life of your coil. For just a couple hundred dollars, that coil that would last 10 years could last 20. Some applications, like high pressure steam coils, require a thicker tube wall or more durable material or the life span of that coil will be extremely short. You’d be surprised at how many other manufacturers’ coils we’re asked to rebuild with the correct materials.

Fin Adders: Most coils are offered with aluminum fins with a thickness of .006”. The adders to go up in fin thickness are not much, but always remember, the thicker the fin, the more air pressure drop it’s going to add to your coil. The most costly adder you can do to a coil is adding copper fins. It will double the cost of your coil, and in some cases, be 2.5 to 3 times more expensive. This wasn’t the case 20 years ago, but the price of copper has risen over the last few years. We usually recommend coating your coils instead. It’s far more economical and only adds a week to the lead time.

Capital Coil & Air understands that people do business with you like and who you trust. Coil manufacturers should be an open book with this information. Unfortunately, most try and prey on what you don’t know. Hopefully, this helps with any confusion. Capital Coil & Air looks forward to working with you!

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Quick, Reliable & Uncommonly Fast

 Quick, Reliable & Uncommonly Fast

You have many choices when buying replacement coils and choosing a coil supplier. You could decide to diversify and work with numerous suppliers, based on a particular need. However, Capital Coil & Air can make your buying decisions a lot easier. We have been in the coil business for many years, and in this industry, we recognize what is important vs. what is irrelevant. That translates into us having good insight on what you need and how best to support you as a customer.

Quick

Coils today typically do not have much “preventative” maintenance done on them. Most everybody just waits until a coil fails and then worries about the problem at that time. And when coils inevitably fail, they fail during the times when you need them most; i.e. cooling coils failing in the summer and hot water coils breaking down in the winter. As a result, there is usually an urgency attached to most HVAC projects. Generally speaking, most jobs require some form of “quick-ship”. Capital Coil & Air gives you (4) different shipping options for all replacement coils. Our standard ship time is 3 – 4 weeks, but if you need your order faster, Capital Coil will accommodate that need. We do not want to have a “one and done” transaction. Capital Coil’s goal as a business is to have a customer base that we work with for 20 years, not 20 minutes. While we will do our best to give you the fairest price possible, you have to recognize that there is an additional premium associated with quick-shipments on replacement coils. However, you will never pay that premium if Capital Coil is late on manufacturing your order. We’ve built our business on quick-ships, and we hit 99% of all deadlines on orders the last two years. In other words, we rarely miss! We give you options, and you only pay for what you really need.

Reliability

Reliability encompasses so many things in the coil industry. For example, if you need a price today, and the sales rep takes (2) days to get back to you, that’s unacceptable and unreliable. If you require a drawing to help you design a job, and you are waiting for a week to have it returned? Again, not what Capital Coil considers reliable. If a coil supplier promises you a ship date and ships (2) weeks late? Once again, not reliable. Do any of the above issues sound familiar? It is easy to make extravagant promises, and companies do it all of the time. However, Capital Coil’s success rate on meeting and exceeding shipping schedules says more than any promise we can make. We believe in under-promising and over-delivering, not the reverse!

  • Capital Coil responds quickly to all inquiries for pricing, general information, and engineering assistance
  • Capital Coil manufactures high quality equipment in the U.S.A. and is AHRI Certified
  • Capital Coil’s years of experience will help you quickly pick the correct product for the correct application
  • Capital Coil provides accurate shipping dates, real-time tracking and common carrier information after your order has left our factory

We do all of the above to make everything in your life easier. Capital Coil holds itself to the highest standards for both reliability and customer service. In short, we want your experience with us to be professional and simple. Please call or email our sales department for any job – no matter how large or small. We greatly look forward to the opportunity to work with you on your next project.

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Does Your HVAC Coil Selection Program Leave You With More Questions Than Answers?

At Capital Coil & Air, we have an accurate and user-friendly coil selection program to select and choose coils. Of course, making good selections is based on having years of experience working with coils of all types and sizes, and Coil Selection Programwe at Capital Coil have that necessary expertise.

When designing a coil, the object is to balance cost and performance together, and that is one area in which we can greatly assist. We do not always choose the cheapest coil because the cheapest coil in almost never the best coil. There are always pressure drops, materials of construction, performance requirements and a host of other things that all play into good or bad coil selections. These are even more relevant in the coil replacement market!

The object is not to duplicate a problem with a coil, but to instead solve the problem and make the coil perform better and last longer. This requires problem solving and making selections that are not always “in the box”.

Part of any successful selection process is having a good selection program to help you. But what makes a program good? First and foremost, you must get the correct results, or you have bad information that is also useless. But apart from that, the selection program must be easy to navigate through. There are “red lights” and “stop signs” built into the program to keep you from making bad selections. Our selection program has most, if not all, coil configurations and styles that you’re likely to run across. We are confident that you’ll find the selection program user-friendly, helpful, and one that makes you want to do business with Capital Coil & Air.

You simply have to click here to request the program, and we will send you an email in response with an activation code and a link to download the program. Of course we are always here to assist you in any selections that you make, or to give you some engineering suggestions and recommendations. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to help you!

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Stock Hot Water Coil – Quick Buyers Guide

Hot Water Coils

Depending on the specific project, selecting the appropriate Hot Water Coil can go one of two ways:  1) costly and complicated or 2) cheap and rather straight-forward. If you’re a representative or contractor reading this, you understand this fact all too well. And if you’ve dealt with us, you know that we much prefer going the second route rather than the first.  Considering the complexity of other types of coils, hot water coils should be as easy for to purchase and get delivered as they are for the manufacturer to build and keep in stock. So…why is it so hard to get your hot water coils shipped to where you need them when you need them?

Capital Coil & Air decided to create a quick buyers guide to when selecting and purchasing Stock Booster Coil Replacements :

  • First and foremost, you need to determine whether the booster coil needs to be 1 or 2 rows deep. Keep in mind that a 2 row booster coil will always generate substantially more BTU’s than a 1 row booster coil, but will also cause your air pressure drop to rise.
  • Generally speaking, booster coils are primarily installed someplace in the ductwork. If your duct size doesn’t match exactly with what we can build a good rule of thumb is to request your coils be built slightly larger than the ducts where they are going to be installed.
  • Booster coils are offered in sizes anywhere from 6” x 6” to 30” X 72”. Booster coils are 1 or 2 row coils that are available in 60 sizes.  Flanged or Slip & Drive casings are available on every size to meet your needs.
  • While most manufacturers claim they have “booster coils in stock”, and then ship in a week, we actually have (30) sizes in stock ready to ship the next day!

Whether you need (1) hot water coil or (200) hot water coils, Capital Coil & Air has the most competitive pricing in the business with the best lead times. Please see our Booster Coil Product Page. Most companies don’t want to bother with hot water coils.  No one does hot water coils better than Capital Coil & Air!

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