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ME 425

Air Distribution & ASHRAE Outlet Selection

Keith E. Elder, P.E.

The Air Distribution System

The purpose of air distribution system is to
create the proper combination of
temperature, humidity and air velocity in the
occupied zone of the conditioned room.
If not properly designed, the air distribution
system has the potential to compromise the
comfort conditions it was designed to

ASHRAE Air Distribution

Design Recommendations
Already defined in one lawsuit as The
Acceptable Standard of Care
Two Basic Rules

Cooling - diffuser selection should be based on

the ratio of the diffusers throw to the length of
the area supplied to achieve high ADPI (minimize
Heating - diffuser-to-room t should not exceed
15F to minimize stratification (minimize

Expanded Comfort Criteria

Comfort is maintained through the change in
seasons when the following conditions are
maintained in the space occupied zone.

Air temp maintained between 73-77F

RH maintained between 25-60%
Maximum air motion in the occupied zone
50 fpm cooling
25 fpm heating
Maximum temperature gradient
1-2 cooling
4 heating

Successful Design Achieves:

Good ventilation effectiveness
Avoids dumping
Avoids draft

Occupied Zone
3 inches to 72 inches above the floor level.
Two feet in from the walls

2 F t.

2 F t.

O ccu p ied

3 "-6 '-0 "

Definition of Draft
Koestel, Tuve and Reinmannn studied the effect of air
motion in the 1950s, measuring the warmth or
coolness of a draft above or below a room temperature
of 76F at 30 inches above the floor at room center,
with air velocity at 30 fpm. They defined draft as:

Any localized feeling of coolness or warmth of any

portion of the body due to both air movement and
temperature, with humidity and radiation considered

Impact of Draft on Comfort

Percentage of Occupants Objecting to Drafts

Effective Draft Temperature

The physiological effects on a human body due to air temperature
& air motion can be described by Effective Draft Temperature (the
difference in temperature between any point in the occupied zone
and the control condition). E.D.T. can be quantified as:

= tx - tc - 0.07(Vx - 30)

= effective draft temperature

tx = local airstream temperature, F
tc = average room temperature, F
Vx = local airstream velocity, fpm

Room Air Distribution Methods

Displacement Ventilation
Localized Ventilation
Mixing Systems

Conventional Mixing Systems

Entrainment Flow
Conventional Mixing

Terminal Velocity
A targeted value of interest usually 50, 100 or
150 fpm


Two Other Important Concepts


The distance from the outlet to a point where the

maximum velocity in the stream cross section has
been reduced to a selected terminal velocity.

Characteristic Room Length

The distance from the diffuser to the nearest

boundary wall in the principle horizontal direction
of the airflow

Outlet Classification
Group A. Outlets mounted in or near the ceiling that discharge air
Group B. Outlets mounted in or near the floor that discharge air
vertically in a non-spreading jet.
Group C. Outlets mounted in or near the floor that discharge air
vertically in a spreading jet.
Group D. Outlets mounted in or near the floor that discharge air
Group E. Outlets mounted in or near the ceiling that project primary air

Group A Outlets

Group A
High Sidewall Grilles

Group A Ceiling Diffusers

Neck, face, core & free area

Neck Area & Neck Velocity




Neck Velocity

Coanda Effect
The attachment of a jet flow introduced parallel to a
ceiling or other surface. This surface effect creates a
lower-pressure region above the jet stream than below
it, causing the higher pressure in the room to hold the
airstream to the ceiling. Conditions necessary for
surface effect include:

Angle of discharge < 40 from parallel surface

A side wall outlet is within one foot of the ceiling
A Floor or sill outlet is within 10 inches of a wall
A ceiling outlet discharges along the ceiling

Coanda Effect

Coanda Effect

Outlet Discharge Patterns

The downward-jetpattern may be of
benefit when the
outlet is installed in
a tall space and
HVAC is in heating
The visualization
consequences for
cooling mode

Square/Rectangular Diffusers

Still capable of
Coanda adherence
to ceiling, but
provides flexibility
for distributing air
in a variety of

Slot Diffuser

Slot Diffuser
Also capable of
Coanda adherence,
but allows directing
the air downward

Air Diffusion Performance Index

ADPI statistically relates the space conditions
of local temperatures and velocities to
occupants thermal comfort
Quantitatively, ADPI is the percentage of
locations where measurements show that the
effective draft temperature, , is between - 3
and +2F and the air velocity is less than 70

Isodrafts for a space with an ADPI of 94%.

Designing to ADPI Criteria

ADPI performance can be predicted based on
air outlet throw data referenced to room
characteristic room length

ASHRAE Mixed Air System

Outlet Selection Steps
1. Determine Air Volume Requirements & Room
2. Select diffuser type and location within room
3. Determine room characteristic length, L
4. Select recommended Tv/L ratio
5. Calculate throw distance by multiplying Tv/L
ratio by room characteristic length
6. Locate appropriate outlet size from mfgrs
7. Check static pressure & noise criteria

Select diffuser type and location

Ceiling Diffuser
Perforated Panel
Ceiling Slot Diffuser
High Wall Grille


Characteristic Room Length
Type of Outlet
High Sidewall Grille
Ceiling Slot Diffuser

Characteristic Length
Distance to wall perpendicular to jet
Distance to wall or midplane between
Perforated Ceiling Diffusers Distance to wall or midplane between
Circular Ceiling Diffuser
Distance to closest wall or intersecting
air jet
Light Troffer Diffuser
Distance to midplane between outlets,
plus distance from ceiling to top of
occupied zone

Select Recommended Tv/L ratio

Check noise criteria

Design Guidelines for HVAC System Noise in Unoccupied Spaces
Private residences, apartments, condominiums
Individual rooms, Meeting/banquet rooms
Halls, corridors, lobbies
Office buildings
Private offices and Conference rooms
Teleconference rooms
Open plan offices
Circulation and public lobbies
Hospitals and clinics
Private rooms, Operating rooms
Corridors, Public Areas

RC(N) Level Space


From 1995 ASHRAE Handbook, HVAC Applications, Chapter 43 (Abridged for this slide)

25 (max)

Return Air Grilles

Ideally located in stagnant areas

Usually placed in ceiling
Low inlet velocities mean placement not
normally the cause of short-circuiting on welldesigned systems

Generally one per 4 supply outlets
Minimum one per occupied room
Air-flows under-specified 5 10%
relative to supply for pressurization

Outlet Selection Example

Select and locate appropriate ceiling air supply diffusers
for the space shown below so as to maximize comfort
in the occupied space. The ceiling is 11 ft and design
supply air requirement is 350 CFM.



Read 05F33.1 - 33.18
Select and locate appropriate ceiling air supply diffusers on the
reflected ceiling plan so as to maximize comfort in the occupied
space. The ceiling is 10 feet above the floor and the design
supply air requirement is 1400 CFM. The tile dimensions are 2 x 4



Reflected Ceiling Plan