An evaluation of technologies for real-time measurement of rates of outdoor airflow into HVAC systems

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During the last few years, new technologies have been introduced for real-time continuous measurement of the flow rates of outdoor air (OA) into HVAC systems; however, an evaluation of these measurement technologies has not previously been published. This document describes a test system and protocols developed for a controlled evaluation of these measurement technologies. The results of tests of four commercially available measurement technologies and one prototype based on a new design are also summarized. The test system and protocol were judged practical and very useful. The series of tests identified three commercially available measurement technologies that should provide reasonably accurate measurements of OA flow rates as long as air velocities are maintained high enough to produce accurately measurable pressure signals. In HVAC systems with economizer controls, to maintain the required air velocities the OA intake will need to be divided into two sections in parallel, each with a separate OA damper. The errors in OA flow rates measured with the fourth commercially available measurement technology were 20% to 30% with horizontal probes but much larger with vertical probes. The new prototype measurement technology was the only one that appears suitable for measuring OA flow rates over their full range from 20% OA to 100% OA without using two separate OA dampers. All of the measurement devices had pressure drops that are likely to be judged acceptable. The influence of wind on the accuracy of these measurement technologies still needs to be evaluated.

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