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This article was published in ASHRAE Journal, September 2009.

Copyright 2009 American Society of Heating,


Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Posted at www.ashrae.org. This article may not be copied and/
or distributed electronically or in paper form without permission of ASHRAE. For more information about ASHRAE
Journal, visit www.ashrae.org.

90

0%
Stroke

80

100%
Stroke

90

90

60%
Stroke

0%
Stroke

80

100%
Stroke

60%
Stroke

70

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70

60

60

60

50

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40

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30

20

20

10

10

395
gpm

0
0

100

200

300

400

455
gpm
500

585
gpm
600

700

Figure 1: Bypass and circuits unbalanced.

0%
Stroke

80

10% 20% 30%


90% 80% 70% 50%

20

395
gpm
0

100

200

300

10

585
gpm

400

500

600

0
700

Figure 2: Only bypass balanced.

365
gpm
0

100

200

300

535
gpm
400

500

600

700

Figure 3: Bypass and circuits balanced.

The Case for Balancing Valves


For several years, Messers. Gil Avery
and James B. (Burt) Rishel have contributed articles to ASHRAE Journal
on chilled water systems, control valves
and balance valves. Appreciably, they
stimulate a debate. However, it should not
be done at the cost of ASHRAE Journal
using pseudo-engineering.
As a reader of the Journal, its hard to
lay all of the blame for Case Against
Balancing Valves by Mr. Avery and Mr.
Rishel in the July 2009 issue at the feet
of the authors. The Journals system of
peer review is equally to blame for the
presentation of this poor quality and fallacious article.
Saving system energy use in chilled
water systems has been addressed in
ASHRAE Journal for many decades. For
an example, see Gilbert F. Carlsons threepart ASHRAE Journal series from FebruaryApril 1972, which was derived from
the annual chilled water plant conference
at Purdue University.
Since the early seventies the industry
has recognized, as written in ASHRAE
Journal, that application of two-way
control valves to water systems, and in
particular chilled water systems, allowed
for the reduction of pump energy use as
a minimum. It has been recommended
practice for at least that long.
One would hardly expect that in 2009
we would be debating the merits of a
constant-volume chilled water system
with three-way valves. Added to this is
the poor economic comparison used to
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ASHRAE Journal

provide a spurious analysis of balancing


valves. Designers shouldnt be designing
a system in this manner for occupant
comfort control.
However, systems designed as constant volume with three-way valves were
a fact of life, and may still be done in the
manner that the authors contend.

In that case, the Avery and Rishel article


is riddled with mathematical errors that
would suggest not using a balancing valve
in a three-way valve system.
The three figures in this letter illustrate
the mathematical system calculations that
describe the hydraulic interaction of pump
curve, valve, pipe and balance, and use a
pump curve similar to that of the article.
USING BASIC knowledge of the
system curve and the system flow coef-

ficient (CS) as outlined in the ASHRAE


Handbook, a system curve was created
for the three-coil system presented, using
as much as possible the data provided,
to derive equipment head selections.
Leaving both the three-way valve bypass
and the circuits unbalanced, the result in
Figure 1 is seen.
The valve authority combined with
no balancing yields a maximum flow
63% greater than design, and a closed
or open flow to the coil 38% greater.
If only the bypass were balanced, the
system flow would be adjusted, as seen
in Figure 2.
This still provides 38% more flow at
open or closed states, but moderately
less than previous when at the midpoint
of stroke. Balanced, the system provides
flow, as in Figure 3.
Note that design flow occurs only
when the valve is fully open to the coil
or bypass. This is the age-old problem
of three-way valves, and has been welldocumented. Minimally, the balancing
valve is reducing the flow at 0% and
100% stroke by 38%. Thats a good
thing (in a poor system design); it saves
horsepower, a fact that the authors try
to ignore.
Rethinking their statement, The energy waste of balance valves is due to their
use being based upon constant flow in a
system that has a variable load, the balance valve for the system balance should
only reduce head in the two branches
closest to the pump. A balance valve in the

a s h r a e . o r g

September 2009

The Case Against Balancing Valves


Author Response
We have heard these comments
from Mark Hegberg before. He broadbrushes the math but does not contest
the article by referring to a specific
detail or calculation. I firmly disagree
that the system head curves are in
error.
We also have seen his valve authority
figures before. If you design a modulating valve with adequate shut-off
capability (200 psig), size it via the
CV method, and give it plenty of range
(200:1), you need not worry about how
the valve fits with coil losses or whether
there will be excess flow at any point in
the rangeability.
With coil control valves conforming
to these specifications, we are seeing
temperature differences of 14F to 20F
on systems designed for 12F. Can you
imagine the energy savings?
This letter doesnt bother us, but we
take offense to Marks remarks about
ASHRAE Journals article reviewers.
They are doing a tough job without
compensation; they find numerous errors and always make an article better.
Both of us have been in the design of
hydronic systems using variable primary pumping without balance valves for
farthest circuit should only be adjusted for
the coil loss and no other reason.
From the pump and system curve
graphs, it becomes obvious that there is
significant constant flow savings attributed to the proper use of the balance
valve, not the improper use the authors
contend to be correct. The authors are
quite wrong.
The authors are also wrong in their
statement, The calculation of the energy consumption for the constant flow
systems is simple since the pump always
operates at one point, 360 gpm (23 L/s) at
73.5 ft (220 kPa) head for the system.
Again, the calculations for control valve
authority prove, with no doubt, that a
three-way valve is not constant, and operSeptember 2009

the past 15 years. There are thousands


designed by HVAC engineers without
balance valves in use.
These systems have saved millions
and millions of kW over what would
have been expended if balance valves
had been incorporated.
James B. (Burt) Rishel, P.E.,
Life Member ASHRAE, Cincinnati

Author Response
Thank you, Mr. Hegberg, for taking the time to list your debate points.
It would have been proper for you to
include a statement such as:
I am associated with a balancing
valve producer, so my opinions
may not be objective. Please keep
this in mind as you read my letter.
We will continue to encourage our
clients to design systems with highquality, pressure-dependent control
valves and no balance valves.
The only thing pressure-independent
control valves and balance valves do in
an all variable flow system is to increase
the water transport (pumping) energy
for the life of the building.
Gil Avery, P.E., Life Member
ASHRAE, Cordova, Tenn.
ates at their stated design point when the
valve is either at 0% or 100% stroke only.
Note, that I analyzed this system using
real selection data. The authors would have
us believe that the coil and valve would
only be 10 ft head loss, making the actual
results worse than what I have presented.
But three-way valves are known energy
wasters and should not be used. Using the
constant-flow system as the basis of
comparison, the authors then take their
thin thesis a step forward and compare
balancing valves to a variable-speed, variable flow system. Thats like comparing
apples and oranges.
In that regard, they further attempt
to mislead the reader by making comSee Case for, Page 13

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Case for, from Page 11


parisons to purposely oversized system
selections.
SO, WHATS wrong with the article?
The math.
In any classically balanced static balance valve system, the hydraulically most
significant path should have no balancing balance valve loss, as the pump is
selected for that circuit. All other circuits
balancing valves account for only the hydraulic differences of distribution piping
and mixed head loss devices (coils, valves,
etc.) required to make that circuit the same
loss as the most significant.
The other circuits balancing valves
only account for the same pressure drop
affiliated with piping in the most significant circuit. System curves dont lie.
The articles Figures 3 and 4 system curves are improperly calculated
and shown for constant-speed pumping
systems, and their referenced points of
operation are improperly shown.
If required flow for the coils is 360
gpm, then the flow for the system is 360
gpm.
Why would an engineer care about
the cost to run a purposely oversized system?only, of course, if one is attempting
to make an oversized system work as if it
were properly sized.
Balancing does not fix problems. It
does adjust for variations in actual performance versus field performance if the
associated equipment can be adjusted for
if constraints such as the pump curve and
control valve allow for it.
When comparing three-way versus
two-way control, the authors state the
branch losses to be 10 ft. That implies a
very oversized valve and much hydraulic
interaction between circuits that, without
going into the control theory and relative
mathematical proof, this would act in only
a two-position control mode cycling the
coil between full and no flow, wasting
pump energy.
Remember that in a modulating system with equal percentage control valve,
stroking the valve from 100% open
to 90% open ideally reduces flow by
some 31%, and the next 10% of stroke
September 2009

reduction reduces the flow to 48% of


design flow.
An experienced pump or control engineer would recognize that as being less
than 12% of the design brake horsepower.
And, better yet, most cooling load profiles
would suggest that 97% of the yearly

hours of operation would be at that point,


a fact most system designers know.
The only trick in modulating a two-way,
variable-speed, variable flow system is getting it to work as intended. In that regard,
valve authority again plays an integral role
in making the system work properly. While

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Re: Arrhenius and the Mayor


First, let me point out that I generally dont consider war or leaky piping
humorous topics. Nonetheless, Joseph
Lstibureks Arrhenius and the Mayor
Building Sciences column in the May

issue resulted in gut laughs, which I had


never before experienced in more than
30 years of reading ASHRAE Journal.

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14

Timothy W. Young, P.E.,


Member ASHRAE,
Washougal, Wash.

the authors would quickly attempt to wash


the egg off their faces by quoting control
valve rangeability, the actual turndown that
would normally be seen, because most designers are unwilling to size valves twoto
four sizes smaller than the entering pipe,
would again make the system unstable
from a control point of view.
Considering the pump control loop and
the reduction in valve flow range, normal
temperature control just isnt sensitive
enough, nor is there any amount of controller adjustment that will let a valve do anything but hunt or maintain a fixed position.
Under classic hydronic theory, and
accounting for how little designers properly account for proportionality in system
design, an automatic flow limiting valve
is the minimum required device to compensate for the swings in flow that real operating systems do show in performance.
When one considers the true control
dynamics of the system, and also factors
in how diversity is improperly being
applied in hydronic system designs these
days, pressure compensated temperature
control valves become the only real choice
in making a variable-speed, variable flow
system work as intended.
The authors advice on control valve
selection in the conclusion is nonsense.
Unless they, and all designers, properly
analyze the controls, and calculate individual circuit control and valve authority,
the worlds best control valve will still
yield poor control no matter what they
think theyve noticed in their careers.
WHATS RIGHT with the article?
Well, thats far easier to answer.
Unless there is some process that requires the application of a constant-speed,
constant-flow system, dont design them.
The same function can always be done
better through judicious application of a
two-way valve. Oh boy! Thanks for the
reminder! If that were the real intent,
then wouldnt a title like Dont design
constant speed pumping systems with
three-way valves be more appropriate?
At least it would be a thesis that could
be proven.
Mark Hegberg, Member ASHRAE,
Elmhurst, Ill.

A S H R A E J o u r n a l

September 2009

Re: Using Direct Evaporative


And Chilled Water Cooling
The article, Using Direct Evaporative
and Chilled Water Cooling by Rick Phillips, P.E., in the July issue was generally
enjoyable.
Mr. Phillips mentioned that The supply fan cfm must be increased by 33% to
provide the same amount of cooling. This also results in a
33% increase in fan horsepower if two fans with the same efficiency are selected.
To be honest, I was confused by this statement. According
to fan laws:
W1 = W2 (D2/D1)4 (Q1/Q2)3 density1/density2
Assume impeller diameter and air density are constant, so the
fan horsepower shall be increased 1.33 1.33 1.33 = 235%
for one fan.
If selecting two fans, the equation to increase total fan
horsepower is:
1.33 1.33 1.33 2 = 470%
This is of the one original fans horsepower.

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September 2009

Author Response
In the article, I was comparing the choice of two different
supply air temperatures to provide the same amount of cooling.
In the second case, using a higher supply air temperature results in the need to deliver 33% more airflow.
I assumed that the ductwork in both cases would be designed
for the chosen airflow, with the same overall pressure drop. In
other words, the ductwork with the higher cfm would be larger
than the base case.
Therefore, the fan bhp formula (bhp = cfm Pressure
Drop/Unit Factor Fan Efficiency) was used to compare
power requirements, not the fan law relationship. Fan law
relationships only apply when the system (in this case,
ductwork) remains the same for both fans.
The second fan I was referring to was the fan moving
more cfm, not a dual-fan setup.
Rick Phillips, P.E.,
Associate Member ASHRAE, Denver
This equates to 235% of the two original fans combined
horsepower. Could Mr. Phillips explain that?
William Xia, Member ASHRAE,
Calgary, AB, Canada

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