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Free Cooling Air Conditioning - I’m looking for a residential high-performance system that uses an air intake damper or a multistage (multi-zone) heating and a cooling system similar to what I found at Economizer Systems and HVAC Control?
Any suggestions? Answer……………
Free Cooling Air Conditioning
Free Cooling Air Conditioning - In the old days we called it opening a window or turning on a fan or both. Commercial HVAC systems use the mechanical code for introducing fresh air into the structure and the requirements in the mechanical code vary from building type to building type.
There are rudimentary economizer systems that are used for commercial HVAC systems to comply with code requirements but in my experience, these systems do not work very well and are simply on the units to meet minimum mechanical code requirements for commercial fresh air code.
Depending on the type of building and space in the building and its use depends on the mechanical code requirements for so many changes of air per hour. For example, A movie theater with a maximum occupancy of 150 people will require 15 CFM’s per person of outside air to satisfy the mechanical code.
In the old days before solid-state sensors and controls, an adjustable panel or damper on the air handling unit would be opened a certain percent to the outside air depending on the required amount of fresh outside air needed to meet the fresh outside air requirement in the mechanical code.
The better electro-mechanical controls were introduced which were economical and reliable and could automatically open the outside air damper based on time or some other method of control and this was better than leaving the panel or damper open 100% of the time to the outside air but it was still not that efficient because other factors like outside air temperatures and humidity were not always ideal to open this damper based on a time variable or a thermostat call for heat or cooling.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning - Free Cooling or Free Air Conditioning
Enter the digital age and high-performance HVAC controls which were economical and reliable and if programmed properly would actually take the system beyond the code requirements and pay for itself in a matter of a few years by saving money. The older economizers were not so economical as the modern-day economizers which are solid-state and computer-controlled DDC systems.
So, with a solid-state HVAC control system, one can go beyond the code requirements for the 15 CFM’s per person in the movie theater and instead measure the CO2 in the theater and open the economizer damper only when the CO2 levels reach a set point safety limit as determined by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) which is the reason why the code requires 15 CFM’s per person in a movie theater with a 1,000 person occupancy.
This can also be referred to as free cooling or free air conditioning because it mostly relies on outside air for air conditioning when the outside air is ideal for such a purpose. When outside air conditions are ideal the HVAC controls lock out the mechanical cooling and begin the free cooling or free air conditioning mode.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning - Modern HVAC Controls
Taking the economizer a step further HVAC control engineers figured out that with the newer modern HVAC controls they can also squeeze more efficiency out of the HVAC system by adding more control to the economizer and utilizing it more often under ideal conditions. I suppose it all started when someone asked the question “What if?”.
What if we used the outside air when the temperature and humidity outside were ideal for cooling instead of using mechanical cooling. They had all the necessary controls in place to facilitate this request. All the technology is economically available and easily retrofitted to the existing setup.
And finally, the economizer evolved from this manual damper which was highly inefficient to a system of HVAC controls and a damper that actually saved money on HVAC operating costs plus it has the required CO2 setpoint limits to open as necessary for CO2 control.
Based on outside air temperature and humidity the economizer will open and allow fresh cool air into the building and lockout mechanical cooling which will save energy. It is called free cooling or free air conditioning and while it is in wide use in commercial HVAC control it still has not found its way into residential HVAC control.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning Technology Leaps for Residential HVAC Control
It is possible that this type of system can be installed in residential and there maybe these types of systems in use in residential at the time of this writing. I know many people who come home from work or a long weekend away and the temperature outside is very cool or even cold but the house is hot and needs cooling so they open their windows and turn on the air conditioner or do one or the other.
An HVAC control system with this capability would take just a flip of a switch or the click of a mouse to start the economizing for residential if this type of HVAC control system was installed.
I’m not an HVAC controls estimator but I would guess this type of system would cost as much as the heating and cooling equipment to install which puts it out of reach of many people. This residential economizer system would mainly be advantageous in the Fall and the Spring when temperatures are more moderate. It would also lessen the amount of run-time for the compressor since free cooling does require the use of the compressor to cool the home.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning - The Ideal Residential Energy Saver – Residential Economizer
If I were to install this type of HVAC control system in my home it would require a modification of the ductwork system, adding a damper to the system which would allow outside air into the home, adding state of the art DDC controls to the system which would require an HVAC control engineer to program, and I would most definitely hook the system up to the internet through my home internet service so I could monitor it from anywhere in the world where I have an internet connection.
So after all that, to answer your question, yes this can be installed in your home but it would take an HVAC control company and a mechanical contractor to achieve this and the system would cost as much as your air conditioning and heating equipment cost to install.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning Vs Mechanical Cooling and Definition
Free cooling is not actually free. You still need to run electrical equipment to gain the cooling effect and take advantage of the right conditions outdoors. The cost of the controls, as stated above, along with the cost of the equipment and then operating costs. Of course, if you have a free cooling system, the operating cost is definitely cheaper than the operating cost of mechanical cooling. However, it’s the initial cost for the design and installation of the system along with the proper controls which will get most people.
Economizer Freel Cooling Air Conditioning Types | Free Cooling Heat Exchanger
In commercial HVAC there are two types of free cooling systems. The airside economizer and the waterside economizer. The airside economizer is actually required in commercial HVAC systems because of code while the waterside economizer is not required.
Waterside economizers use a chilled water system and when the conditions are cool outside the controls lock out the chillers. The cooling happens in the cooling tower and a heat exchanger. Water is pumped to a heat exchanger where the heat-laden water exchanges heat with the cold coming from the outdoor water tower.
Both types of systems save money from using mechanical cooling but only one type is required by code and that has nothing to do with cooling cost factors but with changes of air per hour as required in the mechanical code.
One type of system requires a free cooling heat exchanger while the other just pulls in cool or cold air from the outside by opening a few dampers. One damper to pull in the fresh air and one to exhaust stale air. There are newer systems required by municipalities in their code that require desiccant type economizers.
These systems are necessary because of modern construction which makes new houses tighter. That means less infiltration air like the older houses had. They require it by code to provide fresh air for the occupants and to provide combustion air for gas-burning appliances. Check with your local HVAC contractor for more information about obtaining one for your house.
Free Cooling Air Conditioning