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The following article was published in ASHRAE Journal, April 2000. © Copyright 2000 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and AirConditioning Engineers, Inc. It is presented for educational purposes only. This article may not be copied and/or distributed electronically or in paper form without permission of ASHRAE.

Damper Sizing Using Damper Authority
By Evans Lizardos, P .E.
Fellow ASHRAE and

Kenneth M. Elovitz, P .E.
Member ASHRAE

A

utomatic dampers control airflow in HVAC systems. Applications include controlling mixed air temperature in economizer cycles and airflow to the space in variable air volume systems. Selecting and sizing dampers to provide linear control action aids proper system operation. With linear control, a given change in damper position produces a proportional change in air quantity. If control is not linear, a given change in control signal might produce a consistent change in damper position but a different change in air quantity. The result is unstable or inaccurate control. The resistance of the wide open damper can be expressed as a fraction of the total system resistance. That fraction is called “Damper Authority” or “Characteristic Ratio.”
Damper Authority (%) = Open Damper Resistance × 100% Total System Resistance

The resistance is a pressure drop, so
Damper Authority (%) = Open Damper Pressure Drop × 100% Total System Pressure Drop

Note: Total system resistance and total system pressure drop are for the system without the wide open damper. It is important to realize that “Total System Resistance” or “Total System Pressure Drop” relates only to the part of the system where the damper controls the flow. It is not the entire system pressure drop or the fan total static pressure. The total system pressure drop for selecting dampers is usually the pressure drop from a constant pressure point in the system to the destination for the air. Figure 1 shows a traditional airside economizer cycle with a return fan. The total system pressure drop for the outside air damper is the pressure difference between outside air and Point A, the mixing box plenum. The outside air damper only controls the flow through the weather louver, the damper, and the outside

air ductwork. Therefore, the outside air damper authority is determined by the pressure drop across the outside air damper as a percentage of the pressure difference between outside air and Point A, the mixing box plenum. The outside air damper only controls the amount of flow. It does not control the direction of flow. For outside air to enter the system, other features of the control system must make the pressure in the mixing box (Point A) less than atmospheric. Similarly, the total system pressure drop for selecting the exhaust/relief damper is the pressure drop between Point B and outdoors. For determining the damper authority, the total system pressure drop includes the pressure drop across the relief duct and louver. It does not include the pressure drop across the exhaust/relief damper. The total system pressure drop for selecting the return damper may be less obvious. It is the pressure drop from Point B (the discharge of the return fan) to Point A (the mixing box plenum). The return air damper does not control the flow through the return fan. It simply proportions the flow between the relief duct and the return air duct. The pressure at Point B must always be greater than atmospheric or air will not leave the system. For a VAV box, the total system pressure drop is the pressure from the primary duct to the space. A separate control loop (typically variable speed drive, variable inlet vanes, or fan discharge damper) controls fan capacity to maintain relatively constant pressure in the primary air duct. The VAV box damper does not appreciably affect the flow through the main duct. It only affects the portion of the main duct flow that passes through the VAV box. Therefore, the total system pressure drop for a VAV box damper is from the primary air duct to the space.

Damper Types Figure 2 shows the two damper arrangements used in our industry.
Evans J. Lizardos is founder and president of Lizardos Engineering Associates, Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. He is a past Handbook chairman, and serves on TC.10.9, Refrigeration Applications for Foods and Beverages. Ken Elovitz is an engineer and in house counsel for Energy Economics, Foxboro, Mass. He is ASHRAE Journal’s Practical Guide editor.

April 2000

ASHRAE Journal

37