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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.
About the Authors
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

3 in.5.3 in.56 0.00 3.42 0.125 0.56 0.16 0.09 0.37 0.03 0.49 0.60 0.09 0.47 0.25 0. Figure 5 and Table 2 show how ducts and fittings can be sized to select dampers by damper authority.20 1.3 in. the pressure at the discharge of the return fan must be +0.30 0. w.90 1.005 0.07 1.20 0.180 0.5.” Table 1: Opposed blade and parallel blade damper selection.63 1.11 0.03 0.030 0.03 0.18 0. P r es s ur e Dr o p i n .01 0.35 1.3 in.17 0. Therefore.360 0.100 0.05 0.30 0.64 0.405 0. the following recommended damper authorities are computed for the outdoor and exhaust/relief air dampers: 38 ASHRAE Journal *The pressure drop across a wide open opposed or parallel blade damper is the velocity pressure times a flow coefficient factor of “0.60 0. 2. Fitting FT-1 is a clinch type fitting with 90° side entry airflow.20 0.10 2.50 5.10 0.245 0.10 1.42 0.g.280 0.25 0.36 0.64 0.81 0.g.06 0. It shows the best selection to obtain linear proportional control with a parallel blade damper is a damper authority of 30% to 50%.12 0.15 0. Figure 3 is a set of damper authority curves for parallel blade dampers.20 0.60 4. W i d e Op e n Da m p e r Ch a r a ct e r i s t i cs To t a l S y s t e m P r e s s u r e Dr o p Ve r s u s Da m p e r A u t h o r i t y Op p o s e d B l a d e 10% 15% 0.02 0.40 1.25 1.14 0.00 A p p r o a ch V e l o ci t y fp m V e l o ci t y P r es s ur e i n .1.08 0.81 0.82 0.11 0. w.080 0.30 0.110 0.27 0.g.67 0. Table 1 is a selection guideline to determine the damper velocity for a given damper authority.02 0.30 0. Figure 4 is a set of damper authority curves for opposed blade dampers.20 3.06 0.13 0. Table 2 shows the pressure drop through two types of fittings at various duct velocities.090 0.020 0.15 0.70 0.210 0.450 0.010 0.90 1.18 0. w.37 0.30 0. It is based on a wide open damper flow coefficient of 0. the pressure in the mixing box must be –0. Using the legend in Figure 5 with data from Table 1.00 1. (75 Pa).33 P a r a llel B la d e 30% 0.150 0.36 0.83 1.01 0.00 0.49 0.93 1.015 0.02 0.40 2.045 0.23 0. Fitting FT-2 is a clinch type fitting with straight through airflow.25 0.07 0. (75 Pa).10 0.90 1.g.50 0.14 0.g .060 0.04 0.60 0.070 0.40 0.05 0.20 0. w.50 1. Example 1: Outdoor Air and Exhaust/Relief Damper Design A typical pressure drop to bring outdoor air through the intake louver and subsequent ductwork to the mixing box is 0.33 0.72 0.10 0.70 0. Therefore.80 0. Figure 5 shows a typical economizer cycle damper arrangement with recommended spacing between the damper and nearby fittings. April 2000 .20 1.00 1. (75 Pa) also is typical for the exhaust air path from the return fan discharge to the exhaust air louver outlet.040 0.53 0. Opposed blade dampers: adjacent blades move in opposite directions. A pressure drop of 0.80 3.45 2.00 Applications The following examples illustrate damper selections using the concept of damper authority.22 0.13 0.03 0.42 0.08 0.320 0.22 0.73 0.45 0.18 0.72 0.055 0.40 0.05 0. w.07 0.025 0.04 0.05 0.g .80 2.500 0.55 0.87 2.12 0.67 50% 0. 300 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 2200 2400 2600 2800 3000 3200 3400 3600 3800 4000 0.70 3.08 0. w.16 0. It shows that the best selection to obtain linear proportional control with an opposed blade damper is a damper authority of 10% to 15%.20 0. The technique may be used to select either parallel or opposed blade dampers for linear control.13 2.27 0.05 4.50 1. (75 Pa) relative to outdoors. Parallel blade dampers: all blades move in the same direction and in parallel.

Figure 2: Typical multiblade dampers.00 2.04 1.06 0.12 FT.00 2. w.00 2.20 FT.5 m/s) to avoid sucking in rain and snow. w./75 Pa.00 FT.14 0.80 1.2 0.42 0.g.09 0.31 0.10 FT.32 0.0 FT.10 T SD 0.70 1.50 1.30 0.18 0.22 0.42 0.g. DP R -V 1 .11 0. They should be sized for 1.2 5 0 1 .g.7 0 0 2 . as follows: Return fan discharge static pressure available to overcome exhaust louver.05 0.98 1. than 0.09 0.03 0.1C 1. Air-handling system suction pressure available to overcome outdoor air louver.5 to 2.40 1.0 1.2C 1./150 Pa (absolute). (MPD in the legend to Figure 5).08 0.52 0.0 1.0 1.6 in. bird screen and duct loss to the air-handling system mixing box: –0.14 0.35 –0.34 0.06 MP D 0.22 0.21 0.20 in.60 1.84 0.4 0 0 1 .52 0.06 0.46 0.45 From the table.25 0.56 FT.30 0.1 0 0 2 .0 1. the return air damper and associated ductwork pressure drop from the return fan discharge to the air-handling unit mixing box must dissipate a differential pressure of more April 2000 ASHRAE Journal 39 .15 T SD 0.56 Figure 1: Airside economizer cycle with return fan.08 0.30 0.50 0.06 0. The “Duct Fitting Pressure Drop Guideline” (Table 2) is used to size ducts and fittings to absorb the excess available pressure to achieve damper authority of 10 to 15% for opposed blade dampers or 30 to 50% for parallel blade dampers.0 1.200 fpm (9 to 11 m/s) if they are parallel blade dampers.0 0 0 1 .0 1.30 0.06 0.20 0.16 0. 1900 2000 2200 2400 2600 2800 2900 3000 Table 2: Duct fitting pressure drop table.12 0./75 Pa.800 to 2.3 in.20 1.14 0.0 1.30 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel P r es s ur e in M i x i n g B ox –0.17 0.0 1.12 0.18 0.0 1.2 0 0 DP R 0.18 0.6 0 0 2 .08 0.18 0. outdoor air and exhaust air dampers should not be mounted directly to their respective louvers.5 0 0 DP R 0.22 0.26 0. w. In most applications.40 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel Example 2: Return Air Damper Design In most cases.09 0.10 1. the outdoor air and exhaust air dampers should be sized at a face velocity of 1.1 0.60 0.0 1.16 0.0 1.3 in. DP R -V 1 .5 in.0 1.30 0.200 fpm (5 to 6 m/s) if they are opposed blade dampers. the return air duct pressure drop from the return fan discharge to the mixing box is in the order of 0.00 2.39 –0.25 0.11 0. which usually have face velocities of 300 to 500 fpm (1.36 0.49 0.0 1.1 0.14 0.0 1.000 to 1. w.72 0.075 to 0.00 2. Available pressure from return air fan discharge to the air-handling system mixing box is 0.00 2.06 0.42 0.g.11 0.20 0.90 2.36 0.0 1.06 0.0 1.14 0.54 0. bird screen and duct losses: +0.30 1.36 0. Based on this sizing criterion.33 –0. w.g.09 0.06 0.2 0.00 1.49 0. (125 Pa).52 0.Dampers V 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 VP VP 0.

3 TSD = 0. The outside air louver. w. if the pressure in the mixing box must be –0. (150 Pa).30 × TSD DPR + TSD = 0. the return air damper should be sized at face velocity of 1.g. DPR = 0. w. the system requires a return fan to overcome that resistance and avoid excessive negative pressures in the return duct and mixing box. and into the mixing box.55 in. Whichever damper is selected. bird screen.200 to 2. duct and fitting pressure drop of 0. TSD = 0. w. Example 3: Outdoor Air Damper Design in an Exhaust/Relief Fan Economizer Cycle In a relief/exhaust air fan economizer cycle.400 fpm (11 to 12 m/s) if it is a parallel blade damper. (150 Pa). w.600 fpm (7 to 8 m/s) if it is an opposed blade damper or 2. (150 Pa) on account of the return air path. and intake plenum duct box typically have a pressure drop of about 0. w. the pressure drop through the outside air path must likewise be –0. the pressure in the mixing box reflects the pressure drop for return air to flow from the space.40 to 0. Figure 3: Damper authority curves of installed parallel blade dampers.g. “FT-2” style fitting) must be sized to achieve the desired damper authority.3 in. Example: Damper Pressure Drop (DPR) + TSD must equal 0.g.6 in. w. (100 to 135 Pa) must be included to achieve damper authorities of 10% to 15% for opposed blade dampers and 30% to 50% for parallel blade dampers.6 in.60. (150 Pa) for 30% authority.g.6 in.3 × TSD = TSD =0.g.400 to 1. w.g. The pressure in the mixing box must be the same regardless of which path air takes.Advertisement in the print edition formerly in this space. through the return duct. (75 Pa). 40 ASHRAE Journal April 2000 .6 in. The pressure in the mixing box is typically on the order of –0.60 in.60 1.g. The duct and fitting that connect the intake plenum to the outside air duct (a straightthrough. (150 Pa). If the pressure drop through the return duct is much higher. The outdoor air damper introduces the resistance required to bring the outside air path pressure drop to 0. Accordingly.46 From the table.

52 0. (150 Pa). DP R -V 1 .g.80 in.200 to 2.1 0 0 2 .600 fpm (7 to 8 m/s) when using opposed blade dampers and 2.4 0 0 1 .62 0.10 0.g.14 0./75 Pa) and the pressure in the return duct at the inlet to the exhaust/relief fan (–0. From the table above.07 0. w.27 T SD 0. (100 to 135 Pa) must be added to achieve damper authorities of 10% to 15% for opposed blade dampers and 30% to 50% for parallel blade dampers.9 0 0 DP R 0.40 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel Example 5: Exhaust/Relief Air Damper Design in an Exhaust/Relief Fan Economizer Cycle The exhaust air damper controls a total system pressure drop of about 0.18 0.40 to 0.22 0.34 0.500 fpm (11 to 12 m/s) when using parallel blade dampers.6 0 0 2 .400 fpm (11 to 12 m/s) when using parallel blade dampers.40 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel Figure 5: Economizer cycle damper arrangement. w.30 in.600 fpm (7 to 8 m/s) when using opposed blade dampers. w.08 0.22 0.Dampers Figure 4: Damper authority curves of installed opposed blade dampers.54 0.g.500 to 1.8 0 0 2 . This pressure drop is the difference between the pressure required to push air out the exhaust duct and louver (0.10 MP D 0. DP R -V 1 .400 to 1. Whichever damper is selected.08 0.5 0 0 1 .46 0.06 0.16 0.70 0. DP R -V 1 .50 in.2 0.55 in.06 0.6 in.14 0.10 T SD 0. w.73 0. the exhaust air damper should be sized at a face velocity of 1. the outdoor air damper should be sized at face velocity of 1. (200 Pa).54 0. From the previous table. a duct and fitting pressure drop of 0. w.1 0 0 2 .16 0.g.100 to 2.52 0. the return air damper should be sized at a face velocity of 1.6 0 0 2 .4 0 0 2 .4 0 0 1 . It should be sized for 2.46 0. Example 4: Return Air Damper Design in an Exhaust/Relief Fan Economizer Cycle The total system pressure drop for the return air damper is the pressure drop from the space to the mixing box.5 0 0 DP R 0.5 0 0 DP R 0.g.24 0.1 0 0 0 0 FT.800 fpm (8 to 9 m/s) when using ASHRAE Journal 41 April 2000 .53 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel From the above.20 T SD 0. It is in the order of 0./ 125 Pa).20 FT.400 to 1.

13 0.25 0.6 m/s).42 0. for the takeoff from the main duct plus 0.600 2.75 0.33 0.42 0.33 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel Example 7: Face and Bypass Damper Design The tables on the right show that the ideal selections for linear damper control are an opposed blade damper for the coil section and a parallel blade damper for the bypass section.H T G 0. the ductwork entering the VAV box must be sized so the damper has the desired authority (30%) in the system as installed.600 2.3 5 0 D P R . Fa ce Co n t r o l Da m p e r S e l e ct i o n DP R -V 700 1 . The next table shows the duct entering the VAV box in this example should be sized for 3. for the pressure drop through the low velocity duct and outlet(s).21 0.21 0.77 0.17 T SD .21 0.g.800 to 2.25 in.03 0. The opposed blade damper at the coil should be sized at a velocity of 700 fpm (3.75 0. Example 6: Variable Air Volume Damper Design Assuming a butterfly damper has the same damper authority characteristics as a parallel blade damper.70 0.400 to 2.23 0.25 0. w. DP R -V 1800 2200 2700 4000 DP R 0. This sizing will reduce the height of the by-pass section.10 0.350 fpm (9 to 12 m/s).70 DA DA 30% 30% 30% 30% 30% 30% 30% Figure 6: The return air fan economizer cycle (Examples 1 & 2).33 0. the following table demonstrates that a manufacturer’s variable air volume terminal is designed to have a damper authority of 30%.600 2. which matches the probable heating coil velocity.42 0.000 FP M 2.33 DA DA 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Parallel Parallel 42 ASHRAE Journal April 2000 .70 0.25 0. Since the VAV box manufacturer has established the damper authority.3 5 0 B y .g.42 0. The parallel blade damper in the by-pass section should be sized for a velocity of 1.600 2.70 0.25 M SD 0.H T G 0.70 0.33 0.67 DA DA 10% 15% 30% 50% DP R Ty p e Opposed Opposed Parallel Parallel Figure 7: The relief/exhaust air fan economizer cycle (Examples 3.8 0 0 DP R .05 0.g.42 0.900 fpm (12 to 14 m/s) when using parallel blade dampers.87 0. Total system pressure drop (TSD) is assumed to be 0.70 0.21 T SD 0.42 DP R 0. 2 . consisting of 0. w.400 2.2 5 0 1 .33 V AT.opposed blade dampers and 2.600 2.90 0.70 in.75 T SD 0.75 0.42 0.P D 0.10 0.8 0 0 2 . I n l e t Di a m e t e r S i z e ( i n i n ch e s ) 4 6 8 10 10 12 12 14 14 16 16 CFM 225 500 900 1.600 2.10 0.600 VP VP 0.100 fpm (15.000 3.70 0. 4 & 5).21 0.H T G 0.21 0.B YP 0.7 m/s) to achieve 30% authority with the parallel blade damper in the VAV box.21 0.45 in.000 4.p a s s Co n t r o l Da m p e r S e l e ct i o n DP R -V 1 .17 T SD . w.33 0.

......... Figure 9: Face and bypass damper control (Example 7)....... 458 Helpful ....................... 459 Somewhat Helpful ....................................................................... The typical pressure drops used in the examples are just that—typical... 460 Not Helpful .................................................. Conclusion This article introduces the concept of damper authority and provides examples of how the concept can be used to design for linear damper control................................................................. 461 43 ASHRAE Journal April 2000 ....................... The techniques presented here can be applied to actual jobs by calculating actual pressure drop for the actual system and selecting velocities accordingly...................... Please circle the appropriate number on the Reader Service Card at the back of the publication............ Advertisement in the print edition formerly in this space....................................................................................... the pressure drop through the wide open damper must be added to the “system pressure drop” when sizing the fan..................................... Extremely Helpful ..Figure 8: Variable air volume damper control (Example 6)....... Since damper authority is defined as the ratio of the damper pressure drop to the system pressure drop without the damper...............................

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