Why should we use a chilled water system over other available HVAC options? The answer to this question usually depends on the type of facility/project consultants are working on. And as we all can imagine, the it is always a matter of balancing specific project needs and investors needs.
Of course, there are advantages chiller systems can offer over other available technologies, and in this article we are going to list them. These advantages, though, don’t make other HVAC solution worse. They all have their place depending on what a specific project requires and what the needs of the facility owner.
Chilled water systems in a nutshell
First of all, chilled water systems are generally used in medium and large size buildings. Chiller plants act as centralized cooling systems providing cooling to or even multiple buildings.
Chilled water systems provide cooling to facilities by using chilled water to absorb heat from the building’s spaces. Then, the chiller removes heat from the water through the refrigeration cycle. That happens in the evaporator of the chiller.
The compressor is what drives the entire process and is also the component which uses the most energy. That is why it is important to have an efficient compressor.
In the condenser of the chiller, then, the heat is transferred to the condenser water in case the chiller is a water-cooled, or directly to the outside air if it is an air-cooled.
Why to use a chiller – installation and maintenance
Since chilled water systems act as a centralized cooling system providing cooling for an entire building or multiple buildings, they are often a practical option to centralize Air Conditioning equipment in a single location rather than installing many different pieces of equipment in different places. That, for instance, is a great way to simplify the access to the units for maintenance.
Better energy efficiency and centralized storage of refrigerant
Also, using a chilled water system provides better energy efficiency than smaller, individual systems. That is another important aspect. While chillers might be a more expensive initial investment, they allow have a more efficient system and save money on energy consumption. Therefore, they allow a good Return On The Investement in a relatively quick timeframe.
Other than efficiency, there is another important aspect to consider as a reason to choose a chiller system.
For instance, large commercial buildings requiring a substantial amount of cooling, often use chillers because of their cost-effectivess. But also because of situations where these kind of buildings can’t have refrigerant piped all over the building, whether it is for safety reasons or any other reason.
So, since many types of air conditioners cool the air through direct contact with refrigerant lines, there are cases when chillers might be a better solution than air conditioners, which are also more difficult to install in large buildings.
Flexiblity is one of the main advantages
Flexibility, then, is another great advantage that chilled water systems can provide. Chillers in fact, can have many different configurations. They can be installed indoor, outdoor, they can feature different compressors and refrigerants depending the cooling capacity and the efficiency needed. In short, chillers are perfectly customizable options. They can allow the choice of many different options and accessories that can perfectly adapt the chiller unit to the needs of a specific application.
Furthermore, with chillers it is possible to develop “tailor-made” solutions. Also, their flexibility is given by the fact that they can be combined with a great variety of terminal units such as: fan coils, floor cooling/heating, Air Handling Units, ice bank systems and other chiller cascade systems.
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