Air Handling Unit

The basic secondary system is an all-air, single-zone, air-conditioning system consisting of an air-handling unit and an air distribution system. The air-handling unit may be designed to supply a constant air volume or a variable air volume for low-, medium-, or high-velocity air distribution. Normally, the equipment is located outside the conditioned area in a basement, penthouse, or service area. It can, however, be installed in the area if conditions permit. The equipment can be adjacent to the primary heating and refrigeration equipment or at considerable distance from it by circulating refrigerant, chilled water, hot water, or steam for energy transfer.

Figure 1 shows a typical draw-through central system that supplies conditioned air to a single zone or to multiple zones. A blowthrough configuration may also be used if space or other conditions dictate. The quantity and quality of supplied air are fixed by space requirements and determined as indicated in Chapters 27 and 28 of the 1997 ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals. Air gains and loses heat by contacting heat transfer surfaces and by mixing with air of another condition. Some of this mixing is intentional, as at the outdoor air intake; other mixing is the result of the physical characteristics of a particular component, as when untreated air passes through a coil without contacting the fins (bypass factor).

All treated and untreated air must be well mixed for maximum performance of heat transfer surfaces and for uniform temperatures in the airstream. Stratified, parallel paths of treated and untreated air must be avoided, particularly in the vertical plane of systems using double inlet or multiple-wheel fans. Because these fans do not completely mix the air, different temperatures can occur in branches coming from opposite sides of the supply duct.

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