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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Do You Need to worry about performance on replacement HVAC coils?

With replacement HVAC coils, performance is almost never the issue. This is a common mistake that a lot of folks make. When duplicating a coil, your efforts need to be directed towards making sure the coil fits correctly, as that’s usually the main issue. While you may be thinking that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, here are the main reasons:

  • Coils were never intended to be filters, but that’s exactly what they become over time. For those that routinely work with coils, you know its design is tailor-made for the collection of dirt and Water Coilother air particles The tubes are staggered, which means that dirt can not get through. The fins are rippled and corrugated, which typically leads to the same result. Wet coils tend to collect more dirt than dry coils. The process of cleaning coils is very difficult, and the deeper the coil, the more difficult it is to clean. The end result, depending on the age, maintenance and operation, means that your coils operate anywhere from 50%-70% of their maximum efficiency.
  • Fins do approximately 70% of the work in a coil, with the tubes making up the remaining 30% (generally). When manufactured, the tubes are expanded into the fin collars. But, over time, the fins tend to loosen a little. While not sliding back and forth, the fins lose efficiency and their performance is lessened.
  • So what’s your typical solution after 5, 10 or 15 years? You’d probably raise or lower the water temp on you coil. You might also speed up the drive to get more CFM across the coil. You’ll try most anything to make up for the loss of the coil’s efficiency. Everybody does.
 

But when you replace the coil, it’s new and clean. Additionally, with a new fin/tube bond, your new coil is operating at 100% efficiency, while the old coil was working at 60% – 70% efficiency…maybe. With this automatic increase in efficiency means that performance is not really the issue. Your main concern should be that the coil fits in the space available. Otherwise, your new coil is nothing more than an ugly, metallic coffee table.

Your main goal is to replace your coils with as little trouble and cost as possible. While you may still have offsets in piping, as well as other small installation adjustments, performance should be the least of your worries. We’re here to help you meet your requirements quickly and easily.  CALL OR E-MAIL US!  We look forward to the opportunity to work with you on your future projects.

 
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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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The Smart Approach to Buying HVAC Coils (and Saving Money)

HVAC coil replacement does not have to be cost prohibitive. As you are all aware, money is tight these days, and budgets for maintenance and upkeep are constantly being cut. People are asked to do more with less, so every dollar spent must be spent wisely. In our previous newsletters, we have outlined various reasons about why you should do business with Capital Coil & Air. However, one of the most compelling reasons is cost and how you spend your money.

We now live in an age where you can skip “middle men” and buy direct from a manufacturer or supplier. Think about your own life and how your own personal shopping habits have changed over the years. When was the last time you used a travel agent to book a trip? In 2020, you’re much more likely to go to Tripadvisor or an airline’s website and make travel reservations yourself. Greater access to more choices gives you the opportunity to save money in the process.

Spending money in business these days is no different. Consumers have access to more information than ever before. Consumer studies show buyers get 60% of their product information from a firm’s website before ever speaking with a sales rep. The days of an account manager or manufacturer’s representative being the sole source of information are over. Right now, you can access Capital Coil’s website and see our entire HVAC product offering, including dimensions, quick-ship programs, and our Coil Selection Program. With information at the press of a button, Capital Coil’s expert customer service will consult with you to ensure that you’re getting exactly what you need, when you need it. Working with Capital Coil & Air directly cuts out that “middle man’s” costly mark-up and saves you money without sacrificing quality. Avoiding the “middle man” and having a direct line to the manufacturer also ensures quick response times, and helps to make sure that no information gets lost in translation.

Capital Coil & Air does have a select number of exceptional representatives in a few areas, and because they are valuable assets in the HVAC industry, we are comfortable passing your project information along to those representatives. But if not in one of those areas, you are free to work with us directly.

At the end of the day, technology has allowed you as the consumer to buy smarter, faster, and cheaper. Aside from those previously mentioned “middle men” who does not want faster and cheaper? Capital Coil & Air would like the opportunity to be your “direct supplier” on present and future projects. Give us a call and test us out!

 

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Repair or Replacement HVAC Coils?

Regarding replacement hvac coils, there are multiple reasons why coils can fail prematurely. Sometimes, they 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 on-going maintenance, air quality, and water/steam quality all have an effect on a coil’s lifespan.

Chilled Water 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.

 

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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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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Top 10 Tips For Measuring Coils

1. When measuring coils, performance has very little to do with accurately measuring for replacement coils. Fitting the coil in the existing space with the least amount of labor has everything to do with measuring a coil.  If you duplicate the coil in almost every respect, the performance will match and take care of itself.  New is always more efficient than old.

2.  If you’re ever in doubt about a dimension, smaller is always better than bigger. You can always “safe off” around any coil as long as you can fit it in the space.  If a coil is too big, it makes a really ugly coffee table in your shop.  Too big is the enemy of measuring coils.

Chilled Water Coil

3.  The fin height and fin length are not the determining factors in measuring a coil. The overall casing dimensions are the most important, and you work backwards to determine fin dimensions.

4.  The depth of any coil is the total casing depth in the direction of airflow. The height is the number of tubes high in any row.  Depth is a function of rows deep and height is a function of tubes in a row.

5.  Overall length (OAL) is not the fin length and it’s not the casing length. It is the length from the return bends to include the headers that are inside the unit.  Again, it is necessary to work backwards to get the other dimensions once you know this critical dimension.

6.  Circuiting is the number of tubes connected to the supply header. Generally, you just want to count the number of tubes connected to the header and that will tell you whether it’s full, half, or even a double circuit.  It does not matter how the return bends are configured.  Your goal is to count the number of supply tubes and all performance is based on that.

7.  Fins are measured in fins per inch. Hold a tape measure up to the coils and count the number of fins in one inch.  If you can’t get in to take the measurement, a safe rule of thumb is 10-12 fins/inch.  That will work on almost every coil.  The exception to that rule is a condenser coil.  14-16 fins/inch on a condenser coil is usually pretty safe.

8.  Connection locations are difficult only if you are using the existing piping in the system (which are welded). Copper piping is brazed and can be changed easily.  If a system is old and the piping is being replaced as well as the coil, the connection location is not a major deal.  It’s very easy to match up!

9.  With replacement coils, the concept of “left hand vs. right hand” doesn’t actually exist. Connections are “top left-bottom right” or vice versa.  Ideally, all coils should be counter-flow which means that the water and air flow in opposite directions.  The air hits row one first and the water is piped into row eight first.  However, there are lots of installations that are piped backwards, and they work just fine.  Just match them up, and the coil’s performance will be equal to the old coil.

10.  Connections are not measured from the top of the header! They are measured from the top of the casing to the centerline of the connection.  Or the bottom of the casing to the centerline.  You need a point of reference, and the header height can be anything just as long as it doesn’t stick above or below the casing height.

 

All of the above “suggestions” or “secrets” are in no particular order.  They are just things that you should know to ensure that you are selecting the correct replacement coil. While most seem like common sense, your best bet is to talk with the sales team at Capital Coil & Air, who can walk your through the entire process and help you to fill out coil drawings when trying to measure the dimensions.

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

For those that work with HVAC installations on a regular basis, you have run across the problem of needing to install new 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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Why are HVAC Coils Copper Tube and Aluminum Fin?

It’s really not a coincidence why HVAC coils use copper tubes and aluminum fins. Copper is great for heat transfer, and aluminum – while still very effective -is simply not as good. The first goal ofChilled Water Coils any HVAC coil is to cool or heat. Heat transfer is always the first consideration. Cost is the second. Copper works well for the tubes, but would be prohibitive for the fins. You would need a compelling reason for the fins to be copper, and sometimes there are reasons to do just that. However, the vast majority of HVAC coils that you see are built with copper tubes and aluminum fins. That combination offers the most effective heat transfer at the most efficient cost. 

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. Fins are known as secondary surface, while tubes are referred to as primary surface. While this may seem counterintuitive, the secondary surface is responsible for twice the amount of heat transfer as the primary surface.

The tubes are expanded into the fins, and for that reason, the fins become secondary. As mentioned above, the fins are responsible for 65% – 70% of all heat transfer that takes place in the HVAC coil.  When you think about it logically, it really makes sense. At 8 fins/inch or 10 fins/inch, and with fins that run the height and depth of the coil, there is much more fin surface than tube surface. However, it also points out how good the fin/tube bond must be in the expansion process. Without that bond, the fins cannot perform their job.

Understanding the role and importance of the materials used in HVAC coils cannot be overstated. There is a distinct reason why the vast majority of coils are constructed using these materials. While coils can be built with other tube materials, such as steel, 304/316 stainless steel, 90/10 cupro-nickel, as well as various different fin materials, none of these are as efficient or economical as copper/aluminum.

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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