Active chilled beams offer a great way to provide regulated heating and cooling over a large commercial space making it easy for business owners to run a commercial HVAC solution. Often, active chilled beams are used in favor of passive chilled beams for a number of reasons. And that is, with a primary air system imbued in an active chilled beam, you ensure some important design factors. They are:
1. With a primary air system, you are able to deliver the least required amount of outdoor air, in the space you want to provide ventilation.
2. Due to the fact that chilled beams do not provide any condensate drainage control, there is a need to maintain the indoor dew point so that there is no chance of stagnant condensate. Therefore, the primary air system is used to deliver air which is dry enough to avoid condensation from forming on the chilled beams and causing a potential mold threat.
3. Since the chilled beam is dependent on convection, it is important that a sufficient amount of air is delivered into the space to induce airflow to make for efficient heating and cooling.
An active chilled beam system requires less ductwork and handles smaller volumes of air
As opposed to a typical VAV system, an active chilled system provides a lot of its space cooling from the induced airflow, delivered mostly from the primary air system, which in turn is handled by the central air conditioning unit. In this case, a much smaller volume of air is delivered to the chilled beam compared to more VAV systems, allowing the active chilled beam system to use smaller ductwork.
The ductwork of any HVAC system is susceptible to mold infestation simply due to the damp environment presented in the ductwork. This problem is escalated given the fact that chilled beams do not have countermeasures against condensate stagnation. By requiring smaller ductwork, a chilled system allows for more frequent and less costly air duct cleaning runs which make it easier to maintain and prevent unclean air from flowing around the commercial space.
An active chilled beam system makes less noise during operation
The beauty of an active chilled beam system comes to form the fact that there are no fans or compressors near the space facing unit. That is, the chilled beam itself does not contain any noise creating components that reduce its operational noise to the bare minimum and makes for a more comfortable space compared to more traditional variable air volume HVAC systems which tend to have fans near the space.
What are the challenges associated with an active chilled beam commercial HVAC solution?
For starters, as far as HVAC installation is concerned, active chilled beam solutions have a higher installation costs associated with them due to the fact that the capacity of the chilled beam is lower, and therefore, more chilled beams are required to cover a large span of area. Moreover, additional piping and control valves must be installed for each chilled beam installation at the premises driving the HVAC installation cost up.
Next, as mentioned earlier, there are significant issues regarding the lack of condensation control baked into the chilled beam. This makes it prone to draining off condensate into space it is supposed to cool leading to an unpleasant area, however, with an active chilled beam, this problem is mostly addressed by feeding in the air into the system with a dew point much lower, to prevent condensation.
Finally, chilled beams are not usually equipped with filters as you might come to expect from a commercial HVAC solution. This means that there is no protection against dust and other particles floating around in the air of the indoor space, and it is recirculated back into the air after heating or cooling.
Contrasting the advantages and challenges of owning an active chilled beam system for your commercial space is important before investing in a commercial HVAC solution. Therefore, consult with the best AC maintenance & repair crews before investing a lot of your cash on the wrong system.
See the summary of the challenges here – Challenges of Active Chilled Beam System in Commercial HVAC Solutions [Infographic]
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