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Chilled Beams and Why Should You Use Them

There are different HVAC systems and chilled beam is one that is primarily used in large buildings. This convection HVAC system is specially designed to provide regulated temperature throughout the entire area of a building.

What is a Chilled Beam?

Generally, a chilled beam is one type of convection HVAC system which is commonly used in large infrastructures. They have pipes of water traversing a beam which can be either combined into a normal ceiling system or can be suspended a short distance from the ceiling. They can provide a sensible heating and cooling system throughout the building.

How does a Chilled Beam System Work?

Water is passes through pipes in the beam (heat exchanger) that is suspended or integrated into the ceiling of a facility. The beam chills the air around it, forcing it to the floor because of it’s density. The cool air is replaced by warmer air below creating a cycle of convection. The heating of a room works in a similar cycle.

Types of Chilled Beams

There are two main types of chilled beams, the Passive chilled beams and the Active chilled beams.

  • Passive Chilled Beams (PCB) – A PCB is composed of a fin-and-tube heat exchanger enclosed in a casing and suspended in the ceiling. Passive chilled beams typically are ductless and do not supply primary air. It also does not employ a fan powered mechanism for any fraction of air that comes through the coil. Typically, they depend on induction air absorbed by the coil through air buoyancy. Ascending warm air enters the beam from atop as the chilled air going through the coil dropping down. Cool air dropping generates a drop-in pressure after it and gulps in more warm air over the coil.
  • Active Chilled Beams (ACB) – An ACB is also composed of fin-and-tube heat exchanger enclosed in a casing which can be either recessed or suspended in the ceiling. Active Chilled Beams normally have a ductwork outfitted to them administering a definite amount of essential air to the pressurized plenum inside the device released through the induction nozzles, blended with directed air, and ventilated in the room. They can be ideal when practical pneumatics is required. ACB can be practical for classrooms, public and private office buildings, healthcare facilities, and other conditions where there is a reasonable or high logical heat ratio along with buildings with limited retrofit spaces for mechanical furnishings.

Benefits of Utilizing Chilled Beams

There are some benefits of using chilled beams over some other types of air quality control systems. Aside from different methods of layout that exist, each maintains their inherent advantages.

Chilled beam systems can contribute several advantages to building automation. They are primarily effective in reducing cost of equipment and construction materials than the traditional central air units. Chilled beams typically do not handle return air and rational load beyond the space, condensing the total quantity of supply air and relocating fractional loads from the unit to the area which concludes in a considerable shrinkage of ductwork appropriation. Ductwork shrinkage can produce an important reservation in space demand, giving much more space for occupants and in some cases, even diminishing the costs of architectural elements by reducing the structural height. Manipulating the sensible load at the area and rotating air also creates for a much smaller air handler such as the filters, supply fans, and coils.

This type of HVAC also provides a long range of comfort for occupants because of the reduction of noise, temperature variance, and draft settling. Chilled beams are much quieter than the traditional heating and cooling systems. They operate at a low sound level that can be quite comfortable for any occupants. They are also designed to convey air at decreased velocity in contrast with the traditional heating system. This process eliminates the production of undesirable drafts circulating in the air. Also, chilled beams are designed to be exceptionally efficient in blending room air with the main air supply producing the appropriate and unchanging room temperature.

Chilled beams can be designed to adapt with space availability and can be installed depending on the outline and layout of the space. This adaptability can be convenient in spaces where there is a need for options such as air quality devices, and regulators that can grant water flow and heat and cold adjustment. They are also adjustable manually or electronically to regulate the plenum where air can be released towards the area externally and not passing through the coil or influencing the performance of the induction nozzles.

Air pressure within the building can also be maintained with the exhaust valve option that can act as a supplementary valve to diminish air from the room. These exhaust valves can be combined on either side of the chilled beam. This can shorten the active length of the beam when an exhaust valve option is chosen.

Another reason why chilled beams are becoming more popular is because of the energy efficiency it has over traditional forms of HVAC. The manipulation of return air and the sensible load in the area has a considerable energy productivity benefits. Eliminating some parts of the sensible load on the air handler can reduce energy utilization on that part and any other possible energy losses that may arise from air coming through the ductwork and the area.

Additionally, one of the biggest advantages of a chilled beam system is the ease of use and simple maintenance. They can be reliable systems that do not depend on too much maintenance and replacement. Considering that air is accumulated by the fans towards the device, no moving parts are exposed to depreciation. In most layouts, filtration materializes at the top, so filter replacement is not needed for beams. Maintenance costs are small and some vacuuming is all you need for cleaning and maintaining the cleanliness of the beam itself.

Chilled beams can be a better choice when most HVAC fails. They provide all the benefits that a traditional heating and cooling system cannot yield. They are efficient and at the same time require little space for installation. Chilled beams are very much ideal in buildings where space is crucial for operations, movement, and activities.

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