Is your HVAC system as efficient and reliable as it could be?

June 25, 2013
Sheila Kennedy says more rugged HVAC designs are backed with extended warranty service.

Industrial HVAC systems are getting progressively more reliable and efficient as technology innovations take root. New controllers and digital manifolds, simplified packaging, rugged designs, and extended warranty service are among the many opportunities available to today’s plant and facility managers.

Centralized control

Energy savings can be optimized when fans are centrally controlled. The BAFWorks iPad app and fan controller provides real-time access and control of the speed and status of all Big Ass Fans from a central location. The grouping option allows control of up to 32 groups of any number or variety of fans. Schedules can be set for one fan or groups of fans, and security features protect the system from unauthorized use.

"BAFWorks makes our customers' jobs easier by allowing them to monitor the performance of Big Ass Fans in real time, and remotely alter their operation to better achieve energy savings and thermal comfort goals from a single location," says Christian Taber, senior applications engineer for Big Ass Fans (

Versatile manifolds

Digital manifolds are useful when installing, analyzing, or maintaining industrial HVAC systems. Testo’s new digital manifold model, testo 570, performs pressure and temperature measurements for AC, heat pump, and refrigeration systems. It has four valves and two NTC temperature probe inputs, and it can simultaneously calculate and display superheat and subcooling in real time. The 570 also supports temperature-compensated leak tests on AC/R systems.

“The testo 570 digital manifold/logger delivers the accuracy and functionality needed to maintain and troubleshoot commercial and industrial coolers, freezers, or AC systems,” says John Bickers, director of product management at Testo (

On-board electronics

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All-in-one packaging simplifies fan installation. MacroAir’s new AirStar and AirElite fan lines come with plug-and-play packaging and on-board electronics that are pre-programmed with variable frequency drive (VFD) control of the fan speed. With the VFD positioned near the motor in the aluminum “head unit,” the heat transfer of the aluminum extrusion helps to cool the VFD.

“By minimizing the interference to other electronic components and systems, we’re creating a more efficient system overall. We’re eliminating the external control panel and other external support features like unnecessary wiring. Plus, with a cooler VFD, we are able to set the carrier frequency outside the audible level to create a more silent fan,” says Michael Danielsson, engineering manager for MacroAir (


Rugged design

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Windblown dust and water pose challenges for some HVAC applications. The new NEMA/UL Type 4X VLT HVAC drives from Danfoss VLT Drives are suitable for HVAC applications subject to harsh conditions, including air handlers, pump stations, and cooling towers. Cast aluminum parts are powder-coated with a durable epoxy, and there is no need for a separate enclosure. The drives can be mounted at the equipment location to minimize install costs and cable runs.

“This design incorporates a unique cooling concept that can accommodate high ambient temperatures without de-rating or external cooling,” says Steve Gmeinder, product manager of HVAC for Danfoss VLT Drives (

All of Vortec’s HazLoc Vortex A/C units are designed for use in hazardous locations, including the Dual HazLoc Vortex A/C, which has higher cooling capabilities than the other HazLoc Vortex A/C models. The enclosure cooler solutions operate in environments up to 175 °F and are built to ensure that no ambient, dirty, or humid air enters the cabinet. The units protect against equipment failure due to overheating and minimize noise with 62 dBA operation.

“The unique features incorporated into the line of UL Classified Hazloc Vortex A/C models give them the flexibility to be installed on the top or side of small or large panels in extremely hot locations, where large and expensive explosion-proof Freon air conditioners would not be viable,” says Steve Broerman, Vortec ( engineering manager.

Warranty service

Reliability is expected in industrial HVAC investments. Denso recently increased the warranty on its MovinCool portable spot air conditioners to cover parts and labor on the entire unit for three years. The MovinCool Office Pro, Classic, and Classic Plus lines are included. Confidence in the product design is the reason for the increase. For instance, the fan motors are fully enclosed in a protective housing to avoid motor build-up, which causes corrosion and electrical shorts.

“We hermetically seal our refrigeration units instead of using service valves, which can leak,” says David Keller, manager of MovinCool/Denso Products and Services Americas (

Read Sheila Kennedy's monthly column, Technology Toolbox.