Thermal zoning is a method of designing and controlling the HVAC system so that occupied areas can be maintained at a different temperature than unoccupied areas using independent setback thermostats.

A zone is defined as a space or group of spaces in a building having similar heating and cooling requirements throughout its occupied area so that comfort conditions may be controlled by a single thermostat.

When doing the cooling load calculations, always divide the building into zones. Always estimate the building peak load and individual zones airflow rate.

The building peak load is used for sizing the refrigeration capacity and the individual zone loads are helpful in estimating the airflow rates (air-handling unit capacity).

In practice the corner rooms and the perimetric spaces of the building have variations in load as compared to the interior core areas. The following facts may be noted:

a) The buildings are usually divided into two major zones.

• Exterior Zone: The area inward from the outside wall (usually 12 to 18 feet, if rooms do not line the outside wall). The exterior zone is directly affected by outdoor conditions during summer and winter.

• Interior Zone: The area contained by the external zone. The interior zone is only slightly affected by outdoor conditions and usually has a uniform cooling.

b) Single-zone models shall be limited to open floor plans with perimeter walls not exceeding 40 feet in length.

c) For large building footprints, assume a minimum of five zones per floor: one zone for each exposure (north, south, east & west) and an interior zone.

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