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Issue : October-December 2002
Selecting Cooling Coils without Proprietary Software
By Amrit B. Marathe
Opal HVAC Engineers, Mumbai
Amrit Bhalchandra Marathe is a mechanical engineer from IIT, Bomba! He has been
in"ol"ed in HVAC pro#ects for more than $% ears and is a member of I&H'AE! He can
be contacted at opalh"ac(hotmail!com
When I started work in the HVAC field fresh out of engineering college, PCs were not
commonl used in India and software !rograms for selecting cooling coils were rare"
That was #$ ears ago" Toda, most large manufacturers of coils ha%e sourced their
selection software from foreign !rinci!als and this is used to select and &uote for cooling
coils to suit their or their customer's re&uirements"
There are, howe%er, se%eral consultants and contractors s!ecialising in HVAC work that
do not ha%e read and immediate access to such !ro!rietar software" This article is
meant to hel! them make a selection using engineering ta(les )(ased on cum(ersome heat
transfer e&uations*" I ha%e used them when I started working in this field and I ha%e
continued to use them till toda" The actual !erformance of cooling coils in the field after
installation has (een satisfactor, and as desired"
Types of Coils
There are direct e+!ansion ),-* coils and chilled water coils" .ome coil manufacturers
fa(ricate coils from /0$ inch 1, co!!er tu(es, others from 2 inch co!!er tu(e and still
others use 30$ inch tu(es" .election of the tu(e si4e is a matter of manufacturer's choice
and market demand" Price, as alwas, !las a ma5or !art in the tu(e si4e selection"
The selection method that I follow is for/0$ inch tu(es"
Coil Construction an !eometry
In a coil, co!!er tu(es are arranged !arallel to one another, either in staggered !attern or
non6staggered !attern, along the length 789 of the coil" A staggered !attern is more
commonl used" :or /0$ inch tu(es, the triangular !itch is #";/ inch or #"/ inch" :or 2
inch tu(es it is #"</ inch and for inch tu(es it is # inch"
Plate or ri!!le fins are used to enhance the heat transfer area" Thus the !rimar surface
area )outside area of (are co!!er tu(es* is enhanced greatl ( adding a secondar area of
fins" The total area including fins is called =outside surface area,> for use in the
calculations, in this article"
The cross6section )8 + H* across which air flows is called the face area or the finned area"
Thus 8 is finned length and H is fin height"
:ins are arranged !er!endicular to the tu(es" :in s!acing %aries (etween $ and #? fins !er
inch of tu(e"
A%erage air %elocit across the face area is called coil face %elocit or sim!l face
%elocit" Thus
The num(er of rows of co!!er tu(es in the direction of air flow is termed as de!th of coil
)rows dee!*" Coils with 3,?,@ or $ rows are commonl used"
Aefrigerant or chilled water enters the first row and lea%es the coil from the last row" A
coil in which chilled water or refrigerant is su!!lied to all the tu(es in the first row )also
referred to as tu(es high or tu(es in face* is called a ma+imum or full circuit coil" Thus a
t!ical coil of #;"/ inch height which has #B tu(es in face )(ased on #";/ inch !itch* will
ha%e a ma+imum of #B circuits"
If the su!!l is gi%en to alternate tu(es in face, we get a half6circuit coil with / circuits as
against #B circuits" The C6(ends at the end of the tu(es can (e arranged, at the time of
manufacturing, to o(tain the num(er of circuits desired" .ee "igure # for full and half
circuit coils with ? tu(e face"
Initial $stimate
:rom air conditioning load calculations, one can !ick u! some ke %alues such as the
dehumidified air flow )cfm*, the total load )ton* and calculate dehumidified cfm0ton" This
%alue gi%es a %er useful clue to &uickl estimate the coil cost when one is making a sales
!ro!osal" Ha%ing understood the terms such as face area, face %elocit and de!th of coil,
Table % can (e used to estimate coil si4e"
Table % : $stimating coil si&e base on cfm'ton
Dehumiifie cfm'ton Coil face (elocity fpm )o* of rows
:ace %elocit is restricted to /BB f!m to a%oid carro%er of condensate from the coil" The
%alue of /BB f!m is %er commonl used for coil si4ing and it works %er well for
cfm0ton in the range of /BB to @BB" If cfm0ton ratio falls (elow /BB, )this generall
ha!!ens when room sensi(le heat factor goes (elow B"$ due to high room latent load* a ?6
row coil at /BB f!m (ecomes inade&uate" A /6row coil is not %er common" Hence (
lowering face %elocit, a ?6row dee! coil can (e selected at ?BB f!m, when cfm0ton is
a(out ?BB" As cfm0ton ratio reduces further, @6row or $6row coils ha%e to (e selected"
This situation is encountered when the occu!anc and0or fresh air com!onents are high"
Thus (ased on the face area and num(er of rows, a &uick coil estimate can (e done"
While actuall si4ing the coil, the initial assum!tion of face %elocit ma ha%e to (e
changed to arri%e at an acce!ta(le selection" Thus the !rocedure is re&uired to (e re!eated
with a new %alue of face %elocit" This is known as iteration"
"inal Selection Proceure
+* Data re,uire
:or si4ing the coil, the following data is re&uired from the heat load calculations"
Aoom ,D tem!erature0Aeturn air ,D tem!erature ):*
:resh air ,D tem!erature ):*
,ehumidified air &uantit )cfm*
:resh air &uantit )cfm*
Erand sensi(le heat factor )E.H:*
AC load )ton*
A!!aratus dew !oint A,P ):* )This denotes the a%erage outside surface
tem!erature of the coil"*
-* +ssumptions
To start with, the following assum!tions will ha%e to (e made F :ace %elocit )f!m*,
(ased on Table %
Chilled water entering and lea%ing tem!erature )GWT and 8WT* for chilled water
coil or
Tem!erature of refrigerant in the e%a!orator coil" )Tref*
Hum(er of circuits )# ton0 circuit for I coil* F D!ass factor
In an ideal coil, we can e+!ect #BB J heat transfer efficienc" Air !assing o%er such a coil
will lea%e the coil at a tem!erature e&ual to the A,P" Dut due to limitations in the coil
construction and geometr, some air lea%es the coil without getting full cooled and
dehumidified, as if a certain !ortion of air is (!assing the coil" The coil inefficienc is
e+!ressed as a fraction of air (!assing the coil, or the =(!ass factor>" :ace %elocit and
de!th of coil ha%e a large influence on =(!ass factor>" The condition of air lea%ing the
coil is the mi+ture condition of full treated air at A,P and (!ass air at the inlet
We generall assume (!ass factor )D:* in air conditioning load calculations" The same
%alue can (e assumed for the initial selection" The assum!tion can (e re%iewed (ased on
the result of the initial selection )remem(er iterationK*
Coil geometry
#" Co!!er tu(e /0$I 1,, <<E thick, #"/I triangular !itch,staggered from row to row
<" Aluminium fins 6 $ f!i, #"3I wide !er row
3" 1utside surface << s&ft"0row0face area
?" Inside surface #"< s&ft 0row0face area
/" 1utside to inside surface area ratio A L #$"3
@" Metal resistance rmLB"B</ )hr"s&ft":* !er Dtu
The metal resistance of (are !i!e surface )no fins* is so small as to (e of an significance
com!ared to the normal %alues of other resistances to heat transfer in a coil" With fins,
most of the heat must !ass through the small fin section" Actual %alue of metal resistance
for common air conditioning coils in the normal range of use is from a(out B"BB/ to B"B3
)hr"s&ft":* !er Dtu, de!ending on the thickness and material of fins" It is not constant for
different fluid conditions" Dut for making the selection !rocedure sim!ler, it is considered
to (e near6enough constant"
C* The basic e,uation
The e&uation for determining the num(er of rows re&uired is as under :
C L o%erall heat transfer coefficient [Dtu0)hr"s&ft":"row*]
8MT, L 8og )to the (ase e* mean tem!erature difference"
D* To calculate ./TD
#" Calculate ,D tem!erature of mi+ture of return air and fresh air entering the coil"
),ehumidified air L Aeturn air N :resh air* .ee "igure 0"
<" Calculate ,D tem!erature of air lea%ing the coil :
,D)l%g air* L ,D)mi+* O )#OD:* ),D)mi+* O A,P*
D: L D!ass factor
3" Calculate 8MT,
for ,- coil :
ET, L ,D)mi+* O Tref
8T, L ,D)l%g air* O Tref
:or chilled water coil :
ET, L ,D)mi+* O 8WT
8T, L ,D)l%g air* O GWT
$* To calculate 1 - (alue
The o%erall C6%alue is calculated using the following e&uation"
The o%erall heat transfer coefficient 'C' de!ends on the following factors"
Table 2% : -oiling refrigerant coefficient
3for irect e4pansion in coils5
6efrigerant flow
Tube OD 3inch5
Table #% : :eat transfer coefficients 2i for
water insie tubes
(elocity 3fps5
Insie tube ia
# <3B
#" Insie film coefficient 2i
G+!erimental data is a%aila(le for chilled water and refrigerant" Please refer to
Table 2 and Table #
ki for chilled water coil"
#"# Calculate water flow :
#"< Calculate water %elocit through tu(e"
#"3 Calculate k using Table #
:or ,- assume # ton0circuit to start with and read ki from Table 2
<" /etal resistance :
:or the selected coil geometr the metal resistance is B"B</ hr"s&ft":0Dtu
3" Outsie film coefficient = 2o*
1utside film coefficient ko de!ends on face %elocit and grand sensi(le heat
factor" Aefer to Table 0
Table 0% : Outsie film coefficient 3for
ry coil5
Coil face (elocity
:or wet coil )E.H: Q #* the %alue of ko is calculated as under :
The o%erall C6%alue can now (e calculated using G&uation )<*
"* Calculating the coil face area :
!* Calculating the number of rows of coil :
Calculate the num(er of rows re&uired using G&uation )#*
The assum!tion of (!ass factor can (e %erified using Table 7 (ased on the num(er of
rows re&uired as calculated a(o%e"
A safet margin of / 6 #BJ is ad%isa(le"
Table 7 : -ypass "actors
)o of
Coil face (elocity fpm
#00 000 700 <00
The !rocedure can (e re!eated for:
different %alue of face %elocit
different Tref or GWT"
different RT for chilled water
Please refer to the e+am!le on the ne+t !age"
;hat if the coil geometry is ifferent2
More num(er of fins !er inch" B
2 I co!!er tu(e coil with #"</I !itch
The face area and num(er of rows arri%ed at ( the a(o%e !rocedure, gi%es / 6
#BJ e+tra safet" Water side !ressure dro! calculations will change"
Thinner co!!er tu(e
The data a%aila(le for <<E thick coil can (e used since the effect on C6%alue due
to change in thickness of co!!er tu(e will (e insignificant" Waterside !ressure
dro! calculations will change %er marginall"
Chille water coil selection e4ample
#" ,ata from heat load estimate :
<" Assum!tions :
3" Coil geometr :
#" Co!!er tu(e /0$> 1,, <<E thick , #"/> triangular !itch, staggered from row to
<" Aluminium fins O $ f!i, #"3> wide !er row
3" 1utside surface << s&ft"0row0face area
?" Inside surface #"< s&ft 0row0face area
/" 1utside to inside surface area ratio A L #$"3
@" Metal resistance rm L B"B</ )hr"s&ft":* !er Dtu
?" Initial selection :
/" .election !rocedure :
To calculate 8MT,
To calculate C6%alue :
To calculate ki :
To calculate ko :
Csing e&uation for C, we get
Hum(er of rows re&uired :
Csing ton, C %alue, 8MT,, face area and outside surface area !er row, we get
Pressure dro! :
)from charts*
G&ui%alent length L )no"of tu(es !er ckt" + length* N )no"of tu(es !er ckt + #"? *
6eferences :
#" Tested .olutions to ,esign Pro(lems in Air Conditioning and Aefrigeration ( M"
A" Aamsa" The Industrial Press #P@3 )Ta(le < to ?*
<" Dlue .tar Gngineers' Hand(ook ),ifferent coil geometr*
3" Voltas Gngineers' Hand(ook )Ta(le /*