Tips on Hand Designation & “Counter-flow”

Are your chilled water coils right hand or left hand?  Are you looking into the face of the coil with the air hitting you in the back of the head?  What exactly is counter-flow and why is it important?  Are you completely confused by why right hand vs. left hand even exists?  Most manufacturers probably do not know or understand the technical reasons themselves.

First, let’s figure out what coils even need a hand determination.  Chilled Water Coils, Direct Expansion (Evaporator) Coils, and Condenser Coils are the only coils that need this figured on almost every job.  Hot Water Coils, Booster Coils, and Steam Coils rarely need this determination!  The reason for this is when the coils are only 1 or 2 rows deep, they can be flipped over.  When a chilled water coil is 3+ rows deep, hand determination is much more important because it needs to be counter-flow.  With most suppliers determining hand designation with the air hitting you in the back of the head….do you want the connections on the right or left?

Chilled Water CoilsYou’ve probably heard the term “counter-flow” countless times, but here’s the simplest explanation.  For peak performance, you want the air and the fluid traveling in opposite directions through the coil.  Is it the end of the world if your coils are not counter-flow?  The short answer is no, but you will lose anywhere from 12-15% of the output.  So if your coils are piped incorrectly, don’t expect to get the full performance.  Steam and hot water coils are 1 or 2 rows deep, so again, counter-flow is pretty much irrelevant.  However, it can make a BIG difference with any chilled water or direct expansion coils (3-12) rows deep.

We also get asked many times “what is the proper way to pipe coils?”  Put simply, steam coils should always be fed on the highest connection and the return on the lowest connection.  Water coils should always be fed on the lowest connection and returned on the top connection to ensure that all of the tubes are are fed the same volume of fluid. 

Hand designation and counter-flow are two pretty simple concepts when they are properly explained.  When dealing with a 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 in handling pretty much any scenario that you may come across, so we want to be your coil resource for any and all projects. Please give us a try on your next job!

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Light-Duty Commercial Belt Drive Air Handler Units

There are lots of jobs that require large custom built Air Handler Units, as well as jobs that require Central Station Air Handler Units that are semi-custom built units. There are also plenty of jobs that Belt Driverequire neither of the above products. This application only requires that a light-duty standard unit be built that will match the duty and requirements of the job.

 Examples

  • Strip Malls/Shopping Centers
  • Dormitories and other college campus buildings
  • Military installations
  • Office areas in factories or other industrial settings
  • Condominiums

These examples do not need large heavy-duty units that are expensive and custom built. Instead, most of these units require standard light-duty construction that can provide 800-12,000 CFM. These units come with various options and choices, and are well-built with the highest quality components available. However, the units are not designed for overkill.

Capital Coil manufactures “Belt Drive” units that operate from 800 CFM (2 Tons) – 12,000 CFM (30 Tons). They are available in both horizontal and vertical airflow styles. Included are blowers, coils, drives, filters as well as additional accessories if required. Additionally, they are available in Chilled Water Coils, DX Coils, Hot Water Coils, and electric heat if needed.

So, why would you want to use these units in lieu of a heavy-duty air handler? Cost, cost, and cost again are the primary reasons. In addition, the light-duty units weigh less, they are more economical to install, and long-term maintenance is much easier. The overall cost of a Custom-Built Unit or a Semi-Custom Station Unit is dramatically higher and not needed in most installations. Please visit Capital Coil’s Belt Drive Product Page for additional descriptions of our units.

Shipping Schedules

  • Standard lead time: (6) weeks
  • (4) week quick-ship: 30% adder
  • (2) day quick-ship: 40% adder

Capital Coil is 100% transparent on all prices and pricing options. Each option is clearly listed on all quotes to help make your buying experience that much easier.

The Air Handler industry is pretty easy to understand when boiled down. If your job allows you to stay within “Production” type units that are built to normal standards without any customizations, you can save a lot on your price. The proper units for your project are still of the highest-grade quality, but they are much more of a fit for commercial, light-duty jobs.

Capital Coil & Air looks forward to working with you on all of your future Air Handler projects. You’ll be glad you did.

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Chilled Water, DX (Evaporator) Coils & Moisture Carryover

Moisture carryover is present on DX (Evaporator) Coils or Chilled Water coils where dehumidification happens.  Many people do not think it’s a problem…until you have moisture running down ductwork or spewing all over the inside of an air handler. If you’ve ever experienced that then you probably know all of these rules regarding moisture carryover.

  • Entering air temperatures of 80/67 of return air in the Northeast carry far less moisture than an outside 95/78 entering air temperature in Florida. Outside air always has more moisture. Chilled Water Coil

    Your location plays a part as well. The drain pans will absolutely have be sized differently. Florida’s will be much larger in size.

  • Fin design is irrelevant when it comes to moisture carryover. Whether you have copper corrugated fins, or aluminum flat fins, plate fins or even the old fashioned spiral fins, none of it has any effect on moisture carryover.
  • Lastly, be careful when installing a new chilled water or DX (Evaporator) Coils in a system. Many end users like to increase the airflow on older coils because those old coils can act like filters, the fins are covered in dirt/dust and you’re not getting the same airflow through the coil. This dirt on the coil also semi-prevents moisture carryover. When that brand new chilled water coil is installed, the airflow might be higher than that 550 ft/minute and that, of course, will cause moisture carryover problems. 

Please give us a call with any questions about your coil, your system or its design. Capital Coil is here to help you avoid situations like the one described in this post, and we would love for the chance to work with you!

 

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OEM Replacement Coils: Repair or Replace???

When considering OEM replacement coils, there are multiple reasons why coils can fail prematurely. Sometimes, OEM Coils simply freeze and can never be repaired. Other times, the coil was selected incorrectly, which in turn, made the coil significantly underperform. Many times, there is substantial corrosion or something else in the system that causes the coil to fail. However, most coils, when selected correctly, and in systems that are properly maintained, can last anywhere from 10-30 years!  10-30 years is also a pretty wide range, and there are many variables in how long you can expect a coil to perform. Factors, such as ongoing maintenance, air quality, and water/steam quality all have an effect on a coil’s lifespan.

OEM Replacement Coils

Reasons Why Coils Fail Of Old Age

  • While the coil’s tubes are considered the primary surface, 70% of all coil performance is performed by the finned area on a coil, which is known as the secondary surface. The fin/tube bond is easily the most important manufacturing feature in any coil. Without the bond between the tubes and fins, the coil could never properly function. Like all things however, over time the fin/tube bond becomes less efficient with constant expansion and contraction. While the construction of the coil, as well as the fin collars, does not allow the fins on the coil to move, that fin/tube bond naturally weakens a coil’s life over time after installation. Because of this, it is not a stretch to say that a coil is easily 30% less efficient after (20) years.
  • Cleaning coils often pushes dirt to the center of the coil, and this occurs even more so on wet cooling coils. Just remember that coils can become great air filters if not properly maintained. The BTU output of any coil is in direct proportion to the amount of air going through the coil. If you decrease the CFM by 20%, you are also decrease the BTU’s by 20%!
  • Cleaning agents often corrode aluminum fins. Since every square inch of fin surface matters in performance, corrosion of the fin surface is always detrimental to the coil’s performance.
  • Many times, there are coil leaks simply because of old age. No coils are immune to erosion. You might find the brazing in the tubes, as well as the brazing in the header/tube connections failing over time. Steam can be both erosive and corrosive under higher pressures. Water travels through the coil at 2 – 5 ft/second, so erosion is an enormous part of coil failure, regardless of how well-maintained. Erosion is always there, whether you realize it or not.
  • Water/steam treatment and the corrosive effects of bad steam/water can all be causes of coil failure…which then necessitates the need for a reliable manufacturer for OEM replacement coils.

So What Is The Solution?

Some coils can last 5 years, and some coils can last 30 years. As you have read, there are numerous factors that contribute to a coil’s life. In the end, there will most likely have been multiple attempts to repair that coil to make it last as long as possible. The depressing news is that most of these “Band-Aid” attempts do not work well. The most likely outcome is that you are buying a new coil anyway, so why waste the time and money on a temporary solution?

Coil failure is a “pressure event”, which is a fancy way of saying that a coil is leaking. We’ve listed some of the most common repair methods that you are likely to come across:

  • Drop leaking tubes from the circuit: Keep in mind however that every dropped tube reduces the coil’s performance by triple the surface area of the tube that is dropped. Again, while ok in the short-term, this is simply another “Band-Aid” fix. Over time, your energy costs will rise exponentially, and you will probably end up buying a new coil anyway.
  • Braze over the existing braze: As mentioned above, erosion has caused the original braze to fail, so all that you are really doing is pushing the pressure to another braze, which will then begin to fail as well.
  • High Pressure Cleaning: This method bends the fins, further restricts the airflow, and pushes dirt more to the center of the coil, which can never be adequately cleaned.

The real reason why coils need to be replaced rather than repaired is due to energy costs. If your coil is not operating near desired levels, you’ll need to increase the energy to make it work at its peak performance. Energy increases might be slight at first, but they are guaranteed to continue to rise over time. For example:

  • Somebody adjusts the fan drive for higher speeds, higher CFM’s and higher BTU’s.
  • Someone adjusts the boiler; the water and steam temperatures are higher.
  • Someone adjusts the chiller (1) degree higher for colder water to the chilled water coil.

Whichever method is used, performance begins to suffer and adjustments to the system occur. These adjustments cost energy efficiency and ultimately, money!

If you have ever experienced repairing a coil, then you know it is labor intensive and typically will not work as a permanent solution. With very few exceptions, repairs should be seen as nothing more than temporary until you’re able to replace that coil!

Capital Coil & Air has seen every “repair” method used, as well its inevitable outcome, so instead of putting yourself through that, call Capital Coil and allow us to be your coil replacement experts.

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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?

Chilled Water 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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Steam Distributing (Non-Freeze) Coils: The Accidental Coils

Steam Distributing CoilsWere you aware that Steam Distributing coils or “Non-Freeze” steam coils were essentially discovered by accident? First, it must be mentioned that there is no such thing as a 100% “Non-Freeze” steam coil because under the right conditions, any coil can freeze. As such, Capital Coil tries to steer clear of the term “Non-Freeze” because it is a mischaracterization. Steam Distributing Coils is the correct terminology that Capital Coil uses when speaking about steam coils that see entering air temperatures under 32* F. Trapped condensate in the tubes and/or headers, coupled with entering air temperatures below 32*F over the face of the coil, creates a situation with a near-100% certainty that your steam coil will freeze. Because of this, there is no magical solution to fully eliminate freezing your coil, which again is why Capital Coil does not use the term “Non-Freeze”.

Steam turns to condensate little by little as it travels through the coil. Lower pressure steam turns to condensate faster than higher pressure steam!! The longer the tube length in the coil, the earlier the condensate is formed, and the longer it has to travel through the tubes. One very important fact to always remember is that too much condensate in a steam coil IS NEVER A GOOD THING…under any circumstances! Because of this requirement, everything is designed to ensure the removal of all condensate from the coil. Systems are heavily designed with float & thermostatic traps, vacuum breakers, and placement of piping to help get rid of any remaining condensate.

Another headache that occurs when condensate freezes is that it creates a “water-hammer”. A “water-hammer” can best be described as a loud banging noise as the steam is coming into contact with the condensate in the coil. It does not allow the steam to be evenly distributed across the face of the coil…again not a good thing!

At the inception of the HVAC industry, steam coils were originally designed to be shorter in length because there was not a good way to evacuate condensate. In an effort to make steam coils longer in length, the concept of a steam coil containing a tube within a tube was invented. The steam feeds only the inner tubes, which travels the entire of the length of the outer-tube. Holes are placed every 12” with the inner tube releasing condensate to the outer-tube. The idea is that the condensate is slowly and evenly “distributed” across the entire length of the coil. Heating is also evenly applied across the coil’s face, and if the casing is pitched at a downward angle, condensate cannot remain trapped. It was later discovered as an added bonus that under most circumstances these coils will not freeze. So while the concept was never designed or intended to become known as “Non-Freeze”, they are now used in almost all projects dealing with air temperatures below 32*F. Please keep in mind that you will still need all of the other steam protective devices in the system, including the freeze-stat, but all in all, it is much more difficult to freeze coils today than it was 30-40 years ago. Necessity may be “the mother of invention” but this great concept was discovered accidently.

Capital Coil is available for all of your coil-related trivia needs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out whenever we can be of assistance.

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What Does “Splitting” A DX (Evaporator) Coil Mean?

“Splitting” a DX (Evaporator) coil is one of the toughest concepts to understand in the coil business. “Splitting” the coil simply means that (2) compressors can operate off of the same coil. One obvious advantage, or reason that you might “split” a DX coil is that you can shut down (1) of the compressors when the cooling load does not require it. This in turn saves energy, which saves $ when the cooling load is not operating at maximum design conditions. For example, let’s use a coil that is designed to give you (40) tons, but the coil is split so that (2) 20-ton compressors are feeding the same coil. If you only require ½ of the maximum load on any given day, you can shut down (1) compressor completely and operate the other one at 100%. This is a money-saving feature that you need to be aware of if you deal with DX coils on a regular basis. This requires special circuiting arrangements, and this is where the confusion starts with most folks. There are three primary ways to deal with this:

FACE SPLIT

Splitting the coil is nothing more than putting (2) completely separate fin/tube packs (coils) into one common casing. When you hear the term “face-splitting” a coil, you are drawing a horizontal line from left to right across the face of the coil and dividing the coil into a top and bottom half. It is like having two separate coils in one casing in that each half is circuited by itself. You hook up (1) compressor for the top half, and (1) compressor for the bottom.

In practice, this configuration is no longer used with much frequency because this arrangement leads to air being directed across the entire face of the coil. This disadvantage is especially apparent when only one half of the coil is in use because you’ll need a complicated damper/duct system to ensure that air is only directed to that portion of the coil in operation.

Row Split

“Row splitting” a coil is dividing the coil by drawing a line vertically and putting some portion of the total rows in (1) circuit, while putting the remaining rows in the other circuit. With this configuration, the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and will always pass across the rows that are in operation.

Please be aware that this configuration also comes with certain issues in that this kind of split makes it very hard to achieve a true 50/50 split. Let’s use an (8) row coil as an example. You would like to “row split” this coil with (4) rows/circuit, which would appear to be a perfect 50/50 split. The problem here is that the first (4) rows, located closest to the entering air, pick up a much higher portion of the load than the last (4) rows. In actuality, this coil’s split is closer to 66% / 34%, which will not match the 50/50 compressors. Another option is try to split the coil between (3) & (5) rows. While not 50/50 either, this configuration is closer. However, a new challenge arises because you have now created a coil that is very difficult to build and correctly circuit. In short, you need almost perfect conditions along with a degree of luck to achieve a true 50/50 split using this method.

Intertwined Circuiting

The most common to split coils today is to “intertwine” the circuiting. This means that every alternate tube in the coil is included in (1) circuit, while the other tubes are included in the (2nd) circuit. For example, tubes 1, 3,5,7,9, etc. in the first row are combined with tubes 2, 4, 6,8,10, etc. in the second row. The same tubes in succeeding rows form (1) circuit. You are essentially including every alternate tube in the entire coil into (1) circuit, which (1) compressoDX (Evaporator) Coilsr will operate. All of the remaining tubes not included in the first circuit will now encompass the second circuit.

The advantage of this configuration is that the air passes across the entire face of the coil, and, if one of the compressors is on, there are always tubes in operation. Every split is now exactly 50/50 because it cannot be any other way. Most DX coils are now configured in this manner due to these advantages.

Capital Coil & Air has years of experience measuring, designing and building almost every OEM DX coil that you’ll come across, so please let us help you on your next project. We want to be your replacement coil experts and look forward to the opportunity.

 

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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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