Prototype Systems for Measuring Outdoor Air Intake Rates in Rooftop Air Handlers

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The widespread absence of systems for real-.‐‑time measurement and feedback control, of minimum outdoor air intake rates in HVAC systems contributes to the poor control of ventilation rates in commercial buildings. Ventilation rates affect building energy consumption and influence occupant health. The project designed fabricated and tested four prototypes of systems for measuring rates of outdoor air intake into roof top air handlers. All prototypes met the +/- 20% accuracy target at low wind speeds, with all prototypes accurate within approximately +/- 10% after application of calibration equations. One prototype met the accuracy target without a calibration. With two of four prototype measurement systems, there was no evidence that wind speed or direction affected accuracy; however, winds speeds were generally below usually 3.5m s-.‐‑1 (12.6 km h-.‐‑1) and further testing is desirable. The airflow resistance of the prototypes was generally less than 35 Pa at maximum RTU air flow rates. A pressure drop of this magnitude will increase fan energy consumption by approximately 4%. The project did not have resources necessary to estimate costs of mass produced systems. The retail cost of components and materials used to construct prototypes ranged from approximately $1,200 to $1,700. The test data indicate that the basic designs developed in this project, particularly the designs of two of the prototypes, have considerable merit. Further design refinement, testing, and cost analysis would be necessary to fully assess commercial potential. The designs and test results will be communicated to the HVAC manufacturing community.

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