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Types of HVAC Systems

There are several choices for the type of air conditioning systems, each satisfying the
HVAC objectives with different degrees of success. Broadly the air conditioning system
can be classified in two broad categories: 1) Centralized air conditioning systems and 2)
Decentralized systems.
Central air conditioning systems serve multiple spaces from one base location. These
typically use chilled water as a cooling medium and use extensive ductwork for air
Decentralized air conditioning systems typically serve a single or small spaces from a
location within or directly adjacent to the space. These are essentially direct expansion
(DX)* type and include:
o Packaged thru-the-wall and window air conditioners;
o Interconnected room by room systems;
o Residential and light commercial split systems;
o Self-contained (floor by floor) systems;





*In DX refrigeration the air is cooled directly exchanging heat from the refrigerant.
The principal advantages of central air conditioning systems are
better control of comfort conditions, higher energy efficiency and greater loadmanagement potential. The main drawback is that these systems are more expensive to
install and are usually more sophisticated to operate and maintain.
The principle advantages of decentralized air conditioning
systems is lower initial costs, simplified installation, no ductwork or pipes, independent
zone control, and less floor space requirements for mechanical room, ducts and pipes.
A great benefit of decentralized systems is that they can be individually metered at the
unit. Disadvantages are short equipment life (10 years), higher noise, higher energy
consumption (kW/ton) and are not fit where precise environmental conditions need to be

The chief requirements of an air conditioning duct system are:
1. It should convey specified rates of air flow to prescribed locations
2. It should be economical in combined initial cost, fan operating cost and cost of
building space
3. It should not transmit or generate objectionable noise
Generally at the time of designing an air conditioning duct system, the
required airflow rates are known from load calculations. The location of fans and air
outlets are fixed initially. The duct layout is then made taking into account the space
available and ease of construction. In principle, required amount of air can be conveyed
through the air conditioning ducts by a number of combinations. However, for a given
system, only one set results in the optimum design. Hence, it is essential to identify the
relevant design parameters and then optimize the design.

General rules for duct design:

1. Air should be conveyed as directly as possible to save space, power and material
2. Sudden changes in directions should be avoided. When not possible to avoid sudden
changes, turning vanes should be used to reduce pressure loss
3. Diverging sections should be gradual. Angle of divergence 20
4. Aspect ratio should be as close to 1.0 as possible. Normally, it should not exceed 4
5. Air velocities should be within permissible limits to reduce noise and vibration
6. Duct material should be as smooth as possible to reduce frictional losses

Classification of duct systems:

Ducts are classified based on the load on duct due to air pressure
and turbulence. The classification varies from application to application, such as for
residences, commercial systems, industrial systems etc. For example, one such
classification is given below:
Low pressure systems: Velocity 10 m/s, static pressure 5 cm H O (g)
Medium pressure systems: Velocity 10 m/s, static pressure 15 cm H O (g)
High pressure systems: Velocity > 10 m/s, static pressure 15<p 25 cm H O
High velocities in the ducts results in:
1. Smaller ducts and hence, lower initial cost and lower space requirement
2. Higher pressure drop and hence larger fan power consumption
3. Increased noise and hence a need for noise attenuation
Recommended air velocities depend mainly on the application and the noise criteria.
Typical recommended velocities are:
Residences: 3 m/s to 5 m/s
Theatres: 4 to 6.5 m/s
Restaurants: 7.5 m/s to 10 m/s

If nothing is specified, then a velocity of 5 to 8 m/s is used for main ducts

and a velocity of 4 to 6 m/s is used for the branches. The allowable air velocities can be
as high as 30 m/s in ships and aircrafts to reduce the space requirement.

Commonly used duct design methods

Supply air from the fan is distributed t outlets , which are located in different conditioned
zones. Duct running from the supply air fan to different zones are known as duct runs.
The run with the highest pressure drop is called as the index run. From load and
psychrometric calculations the required supply airflow rates to each conditioned space
are known. From the building layout and the location of the supply fan, the length of
each duct run is known. The purpose of the duct design is to select suitable dimensions
of duct for each run and then to select a fan, which can provide the required supply
airflow rate to each conditioned zone.
Due to the several issues involved, the design of an air conditioning duct system in
large buildings could be a sophisticated operation requiring the use of Computer Aided
Design (CAD) software. However, the following methods are most commonly used for
simpler lay-outs.
1. Velocity method
2. Equal Friction Method
3. Static Regain method

3.Basic Air-Conditioning System

Figure shows the schematic diagram of an air-conditioning plant. The
majority of the air is drawn from the space, mixed with outside ventilation air
and then conditioned before being blown back into the space.
Air-conditioning systems are designed to
meet a variety of objectives. In many commercial and institutional systems, the
ratio of outside ventilation air to return air typically varies from 15 to 25% of
outside air. There are, however, systems which provide 100% outside air with
zero recirculation.
The components, from left to right, are:
Outside Air Damper, which closes off the outside air intake when the
system is switched off. The damper can be on a spring return with a
motor to drive it open; then it will automatically close on power failure.
On many systems there will be a metal mesh screen located upstream of
the filter, to prevent birds and small animals from entering, and to catch
larger items such as leaves and pieces of paper.
Mixing chamber, where return air from the space is mixed with the outside
ventilation air.
Filter, which cleans the air by removing solid airborne contaminants (dirt).
The filter is positioned so that it cleans the return air and the ventilation
air. The filter is also positioned upstream of any heating or cooling coils,
to keep the coils clean. This is particularly important for the cooling

Heating coil, which raises the air temperature to the required supply
Cooling coil, which provides cooling and dehumidification. A thermostat
mounted in the space will normally control this coil. Asingle thermostat
and controller are often used to control both the heating and cooling coil.
This method reduces energy waste, because it ensures the two coils
cannot both be on at the same time.
Humidifier, which adds moisture, and which is usually controlled by a
humidistat in the space. In addition, a high humidity override humidistat
will often be mounted just downstream of the fan, to switch the
humidification off if it is too humid in the duct. This minimizes the
possibility of condensation forming in the duct.
Fan, to draw the air through the resistance of the system and blow it into the
These components are controlled to achieve six of the seven air-conditioning
Heating: directly by the space thermostat controlling the amount of heat
supplied by the heating coil.
Cooling: directly by the space thermostat controlling the amount of cooling
supplied to the cooling coil.

Dehumidifying: by default when cooling is required, since, as the cooling coil

cools the air, some moisture condenses out.
Humidifying: directly, by releasing steam into the air, or by a very fine water
spray into the air causing both humidification and cooling.
Ventilating: provided by the outside air brought in to the system.
Cleaning: provided by the supply of filtered air.
Air movement within the space is not addressed by the air-conditioning
plant, but rather by the way the air is delivered into the space.