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COMMERCIAL HVAC

EQUIPMENT

Rooftops
Level 2:
Variable Air
Volume Units

Technical Development Program

Technical Development Programs (TDP) are modules of technical training on HVAC theory,
system design, equipment selection and application topics. They are targeted at engineers and
designers who wish to develop their knowledge in this field to effectively design, specify, sell or
apply HVAC equipment in commercial applications.
Although TDP topics have been developed as stand-alone modules, there are logical groupings of topics. The modules within each group begin at an introductory level and progress to
advanced levels. The breadth of this offering allows for customization into a complete HVAC
curriculum from a complete HVAC design course at an introductory-level or to an advancedlevel design course. Advanced-level modules assume prerequisite knowledge and do not review
basic concepts.

Large rooftop units are a fast-growing segment of the rooftop industry. A large VAV (variable air volume) rooftop unit with VAV terminals can be used in the place of multiple smaller
constant volume units as a way of providing multiple zones of temperature control. With fewer
rooftop units, duct systems, power supplies, and roof penetrations, cost savings are realized. The
VAV rooftop unit can be incorporated with a variety of VAV terminals to form a complete system. Large VAV rooftops units are also being used in some applications traditionally reserved for
applied equipment, such as central station air handlers and chiller systems. The rooftop variable
air volume system offers a competitive first cost, competitive operating cost, ease of service,
good indoor air quality capabilities, and good part-load humidity control. The ability to deliver
these benefits has led to increased use of variable air volume systems using large tonnage rooftop
units.
2007 Carrier Corporation. All rights reserved.
The information in this manual is offered as a general guide for the use of industry and consulting engineers in designing systems.
Judgment is required for application of this information to specific installations and design applications. Carrier is not responsible
for any uses made of this information and assumes no responsibility for the performance or desirability of any resulting system
design.
The information in this publication is subject to change without notice. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without the express written permission of Carrier
Corporation.

Printed in Syracuse, NY
CARRIER CORPORATION

Carrier Parkway
Syracuse, NY 13221, U.S.A.

Table of Contents
Introduction.....................................................................................................................................................1
Market Overview........................................................................................................................................2
Large Rooftop Unit Types ..........................................................................................................................3
Variable Air Volume or Constant Volume .................................................................................................3
VAV versus VVT Systems .......................................................................................................................4
What is a VAV Rooftop System? ...................................................................................................................5
System Description.....................................................................................................................................6
Variable Air Volume Rooftop Unit.......................................................................................................6
VAV Terminals (One per Control Zone) ...............................................................................................6
Supply Diffusers.....................................................................................................................................6
Control System.......................................................................................................................................6
Ductwork and Return Grille ...................................................................................................................7
Customer Benefits ......................................................................................................................................7
Candidate Buildings for VAV Rooftop Systems ............................................................................................8
Single-Story Industrial Building.................................................................................................................8
Two-Story Office Park Building.................................................................................................................9
Multi-Story Office Building .......................................................................................................................9
VAV Rooftop Unit Features .........................................................................................................................10
Standard Unit............................................................................................................................................10
Refrigerant................................................................................................................................................11
Condenser Coil Construction....................................................................................................................11
Round Tube Plate Fin Coil...................................................................................................................11
Microchannel Coil................................................................................................................................12
Benefits of Microchannel Technology .................................................................................................13
Supply Fan Airflow Modulation...............................................................................................................13
Multiple Steps of Unloading.....................................................................................................................14
Economizer...............................................................................................................................................14
Minimum Ventilation ...........................................................................................................................15
Economizer Control Methods ..............................................................................................................15
Unit Options and Accessories .......................................................................................................................17
Outdoor Air Damper.................................................................................................................................17
Barometric Relief .....................................................................................................................................18
Power Exhaust ..........................................................................................................................................18
Return Fan ................................................................................................................................................19
Minimum Outdoor Air Control.................................................................................................................20
Single-Point Power Connection................................................................................................................20
Service Disconnect ...................................................................................................................................20
Horizontal Supply and Return ..................................................................................................................21
High Capacity Cooling Coils.....................................................................................................................21
Filter Choices............................................................................................................................................22
High-Static Supply Fan.............................................................................................................................22
Supply Fan Motor Choices .......................................................................................................................23
Direct Expansion (DX) Reheat Coils........................................................................................................23
Hot Gas Bypass ........................................................................................................................................24
Corrosion-Resistant Coil Options.............................................................................................................24
Heating Types...........................................................................................................................................25
Staged Gas Control...................................................................................................................................25
LP Gas Conversion Kit.............................................................................................................................26
Interior Casing Options.............................................................................................................................26
Low Ambient Control...............................................................................................................................26

Air Terminals and Diffusers ......................................................................................................................... 27


Single-Duct Terminal ............................................................................................................................... 27
Fan-Powered Terminal Units.................................................................................................................... 28
Parallel Fan-Powered Terminal ................................................................................................................ 28
Series Fan-Powered Terminal .............................................................................................................. 29
Choosing a Fan-Powered Terminal...................................................................................................... 30
Integral-Diffuser Air Terminal............................................................................................................. 30
Diffuser Types .......................................................................................................................................... 31
Indoor Air Quality Features .......................................................................................................................... 32
VAV Rooftop Unit ................................................................................................................................... 32
Filters ................................................................................................................................................... 32
Part Load Humidity Control................................................................................................................. 33
Air Terminals............................................................................................................................................ 35
Application Topics........................................................................................................................................ 35
Central Heat in a VAV Rooftop ............................................................................................................... 35
Unit Installation and Clearances............................................................................................................... 37
Building Pressurization, Exhaust and Return Fans................................................................................... 37
Exhaust Fans ........................................................................................................................................ 38
Return Fans .......................................................................................................................................... 38
Smoke Control Modes .............................................................................................................................. 39
Building Evacuation Mode................................................................................................................... 40
Building Pressurization Mode.............................................................................................................. 40
Smoke Purge ........................................................................................................................................ 40
Fire Shutdown ...................................................................................................................................... 40
Airflow Limitations .................................................................................................................................. 41
Cooling................................................................................................................................................. 41
Heating................................................................................................................................................. 41
Ventilation ................................................................................................................................................ 41
ASHRAE 62.1...................................................................................................................................... 42
Ventilation Rate Procedure .................................................................................................................. 42
IAQ Procedure ..................................................................................................................................... 43
Demand Controlled Ventilation ........................................................................................................... 43
Energy Recovery ...................................................................................................................................... 45
Controls......................................................................................................................................................... 46
Variable Air Volume Rooftop Control Objectives ................................................................................... 46
Typical Variable Air Volume Rooftop System Control....................................................................... 46
Equipment Level Sequences..................................................................................................................... 48
Occupancy Period Scheduling ............................................................................................................. 48
Occupied Cooling................................................................................................................................. 49
Unoccupied Cooling............................................................................................................................. 49
Night Time Free Cooling ..................................................................................................................... 49
Occupied Heating................................................................................................................................. 49
Unoccupied Heating............................................................................................................................. 50
Dehumidification ................................................................................................................................. 50
Acoustic Considerations ............................................................................................................................... 51
Noise Control Rooftop Units ................................................................................................................. 51
Noise Control Variable Air Volume Terminals..................................................................................... 52
Codes and Standards ..................................................................................................................................... 53
UL/ETL .................................................................................................................................................... 53
ARI ........................................................................................................................................................... 53
ASHRAE .................................................................................................................................................. 54
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)................................................................... 54
Unit Selection ............................................................................................................................................... 54
Summary....................................................................................................................................................... 57
Work Session ................................................................................................................................................ 58
Work Session Answers ................................................................................................................................. 61
Glossary ........................................................................................................................................................ 63

ROOFTOPS, LEVEL 2: VARIABLE AIR VOLUME UNITS

Introduction
Packaged rooftop units comprise the largest segment of the commercial HVAC marketplace
in the United States. The focus of this TDP is large packaged rooftop units that are used in variable air volume applications. These units are typically available in capacities ranging from 20 to
100 tons or more. Each unit includes a compressor section, filter section, evaporator coil, aircooled condenser coil, indoor fan section, and controls designed for VAV
(variable air volume) duty, all in a
packaged design for outdoor installation.
Large packaged VAV rooftop
units, as shown in Figure 1, are designed to meet current industry trends.
The procedure for selecting an appropriate unit and system for a
commercial building has changed.
Four major concerns now drive the Figure 1
HVAC unit and system choice in toTypical Variable Air Volume Packaged Rooftop
days marketplace:

Full and part-load energy efficiency

Part-load temperature and humidity control

Indoor air quality (IAQ) within the building

Acoustic considerations

A VAV rooftop unit can deliver high efficiencies at full and part load with good temperature
and humidity control. Available features provide for desirable indoor air quality, and the unit design allows for flexibility in location to allow for better acoustical performance.
There are several building types that are good candidates for VAV rooftop units. There is also
a variety of options and accessories available that will customize the VAV rooftop to the application. VAV terminals for zone control are also available in several configurations: series and
parallel fan-powered terminals, single-duct terminals, and integral-diffuser units.
Overall, the resulting building indoor air quality benefits from the use of a VAV rooftop system. The ability to meet the four design requirements has led to increased use of variable air
volume systems based on large tonnage rooftop units.

Commercial HVAC Equipment

ROOFTOPS, LEVEL 2: VARIABLE AIR VOLUME UNITS

Common information applicable


to this TDP is also contained in
TDP-631, Rooftops Level 1: Constant
Volume. This TDP will reference that
publication as a source of further
information.
As a final note, this TDP is meant
to complement the Carrier System
Design Guide on VAV Rooftop Systems. The Design Guide develops
system-related topics like VAV rooftop layout, heating and cooling loads, Figure 2
duct design, operating cost analysis, Other Carrier Publications that Complement This TDP
and jobsite suggestions. These documents are shown in Figure 2.

Market Overview
The rooftop market has experienced a number of changing trends in design choices. One
trend is toward fewer, larger tonnage units instead of large numbers of smaller sized units, as
shown in Figure 3. One of the primary reasons is due to the cost of preventative maintenance.
Other reasons are that the number of
roof penetrations, electrical power
supplies, and separate duct systems
can be reduced with fewer, large-sized
units.
For example, consider a structure
with multiple small rooftop units. A
simple task, such as changing filters,
could take a technician a minimum of
several hours. The air conditioning
needs of the same building may be
met with a single large rooftop unit Figure 3
distributing air to VAV terminals for Changing Trend in Design Choices
zone control. The filter maintenance
could now be accomplished in minutes. Scenarios like this are one
reason for a general increase in the
use of larger capacity rooftop units.

Commercial HVAC Equipment

ROOFTOPS, LEVEL 2: VARIABLE AIR VOLUME UNITS

Large Rooftop Unit Types


Large rooftops are available in two configurations: packaged air-conditioner (PAC), or gasfired heating and cooling year round air conditioner (YAC).
A packaged air-conditioner may provide cooling only or
be equipped with gas-fired heaters, electric resistance heaters, hot water heat, or steam heating coils, depending on the
size and manufacturer. When capable of heating, the unit
may be used for year round heating and cooling duty. Traditionally, the YAC is given the year round designation by
virtue of the fact it is factory-equipped with gas heat. Gas
historically has been less expensive as a heating source than
electric resistance heaters.

VAV Rooftop Unit Capacities


At one time, 100 tons of
capacity was seen as the
practical maximum for a
rooftop unit. Today, 130 tons
is common, with a few
manufacturers offering units
as big as 200 tons.

Variable Air Volume or Constant Volume


VAV units have the ability to vary the supply airflow. The most popular method utilizes a
variable frequency drive (VFD) to control the rpm of the supply fan motor. See Figure 4. Varying the airflow as a function of space load requirements saves fan energy. The larger the rooftop
unit motor is, the larger the potential for fan energy savings. Installing inlet guide vanes (IGV) on
the supply fan can also provide fan
modulation. Today, inlet guide vanes
are used less frequently than in the
past, primarily because they are less
efficient and less reliable than VFDs.
Also, the price of VFDs has decreased. For a complete discussion of
fan modulation methods, see TDP613, Fans in VAV Systems.

Variable air volume systems adjust the unit operation based on the
volume and temperature of air required by the system. A VAV system
can utilize an air handler, rooftop, or Figure 4
self-contained indoor unit to produce VAV Rooftop Unit Key Features
the required airflow.
VAV units typically use a multi-step discharge air controller to stage the compressors to
maintain a constant air temperature off the cooling coil. VAV units may also incorporate a supply
air temperature reset function. This feature automatically resets the supply air temperature upwards when the return air temperature (RAT) reaches the occupied space temperature set point.
If the RAT equals the space temperature set point, all space demands should be satisfied. At that
point, the controls can reset the supply temperature up a few degrees (usually from 55 to 60 F) to
save compressor energy. Another reset function associated with VAV systems is zone demand
reset. The cold air temperature can be reset based upon the requirement to satisfy the average
occupied zone space temperature.

Commercial HVAC Equipment

ROOFTOPS, LEVEL 2: VARIABLE AIR VOLUME UNITS

VAV units usually have more steps of cooling capacity than constant volume units, allowing
them to maintain better control of the discharge air temperature. Some units that have a limited
number of capacity steps may require hot gas bypass to protect the refrigeration system during
low-load conditions. Hot gas bypass allows the compressor to operate even when the load requirements are less than the minimum step of compressor capacity reduction. Often hot gas
bypass is not needed, as the VAV rooftop unit will control the discharge air set point and cycle
last stage of compression to maintain set point even at low-load conditions.

Constant volume units base their


operation on a thermostat in the occupied space (see Figure 5). Hence,
constant volume units supply a fixed
volume of air. Only the temperature
of the air provided varies. They do
not utilize a VFD or discharge air
control.
Hot Gas Bypass
The energy draw of a
compressor when operating on
hot gas bypass is the same as
when operating on the
minimum step of unloading.

Figure 5
Constant Volume Rooftop Key Features

VAV versus VVT Systems


The percentage of large variable air volume rooftops sold versus the number of large constant
volume sized rooftops continues to increase. The ratio is tonnage-dependent. For example, the
larger the unit, the greater the percentage of variable air volume units sold. At least 50 percent of
the 30 to 50-ton large rooftops are variable air volume. Above 50 tons, the ratio approaches
90 percent. This is because VAV systems are equipped to serve large cooling demands.
In the HVAC industry, VAVequipped rooftop units are available
starting about 20 tons in capacity. Below 20 tons, systems called variable
volume and temperature (VVT) are
often used. A VVT system is capable
of supplying multiple zones of control
from a constant volume rooftop. Instead of using a VFD to vary the
airflow through the unit, unused supply airflow is bypassed from the main
supply duct back to the unit return.
See Figure 6.

Figure 6
Typical VVT System

Commercial HVAC Equipment