Chillers go home; settle in for zoned cooling

May 5, 2000
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A new chiller system aimed at the residential market, as well as light commercial applications, offers some attractive benefits including no refrigerant handling, zero duct loss, and simple zone cooling. The system is slated to be released in June.

According to Chuck Brewer, sales manager, North America, for manufacturer Multiaqua, Pembroke Pines, FL, the environmental benefits of the system include “no refrigerant entering the home space. Only water travels through the piping.”

The use of a closed refrigerant system means there is no need to charge the system and no need for installation technicians that are certified to handle refrigerants. Because no refrigerant lines are needed, installation costs are lower compared to standard split systems.

Ralph Feria, president of the company, noted that “If a pipe breaks, water comes out — not refrigerant. The refrigerant is in a sealed system in the chiller and is outside of the structure.”

Feria also pointed out that there can be up to 15% duct loss in traditional ducted systems. “Our non-ducted system has zero duct loss, which makes it up to 15% more efficient than traditional systems.”

Using various fancoils, the system allows conditioning of only the spaces that call for it with individual thermostats.

The new system will be initially available in 3-, 4-, and 5-ton cooling capacities. It will be matched with any one or a multiple of chilled-water fancoils, including high-wall, universal-mount, vertical-ducted, hideaway, and free-standing units. Thermostat options include a simple 24-V unit, a hard-wired remote, or an infrared wireless remote.

How it works

In operation, R-22 is circulated through the system by a Copeland scroll compressor, which increases the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant and pumps it into the condenser coil.

In the condenser, the refrigerant vapor is cooled by air passed over the coil by two fractional-horsepower fan-motor assemblies. The refrigerant then condenses into liquid.

The liquid refrigerant flows through a thermostatic expansion valve where it is metered; pressure and temperature are reduced. After passing through the expansion valve, the refrigerant flows into a brazed-plate heat exchanger, where it absorbs heat from the water passing through parallel circuits of the heat exchanger.

As the R-22 starts back through its self-contained cycle, the now chilled water passes through a stainless steel, fractional-horsepower pump. The water’s head pressure is boosted so that it travels at a specific flow rate into the home or other space to be conditioned.

As the chilled water flows through each fancoil, air is moved across the coil and the water absorbs the heat of the space, supplying cool air to that area.

Long-distance chilling

“The pump was selected to address 95% of the needs for water delivery,” said Feria. “Theoretically, there is no distance limit for the chiller from the house; it would simply require installation of additional water pumps.”

Brewer noted that “A contractor called me and had no space in landscaping for placement of the outdoor unit, and needed to place it 200 feet away. He plans to use the Multiaqua chiller.”

The water line used is Kitec® semi-rigid polyethylene piping. The fancoils and chillers will leave the factory with Kitec fittings installed, so the system is ready for quick hookup to the piping.

This is the only air conditioning system you can completely install without using a torch,” stated Feria.

This chiller, added Brewer, “has lowered the bar for the installation expertise required to install the system. This helps out with the lack of technicians the industry is facing.”

The company is building a factory in Miramar, FL, which is scheduled to be completed and producing units in June. Right now, it has test units and a prototype in operation. The firm received a major boost to its distribution team when it signed Watsco (Coconut Grove, FL) to handle distribution in 23 states.

Later on this year, the company will have heat pump versions of the chillers for heating applications. It will also launch 7.5- and 10-ton models. Further down the road, 1- and 2-ton units will be launched.

Feria and Brewer can be reached at 954-431-1300.

Sidebar: Another new residential chiller

A new chiller system for the residential market has also been announced by Unico, Inc., St. Louis, MO. This system is being targeted specifically for the high-end market, custom homes and renovations.

“This chiller provides a real opportunity for more zoned cooling,” said Scott Intagliata, marketing director for the company. It is being offered in 3-, 3.5-, 4-, and 5-ton models. With this system, chilled-water air handlers will primarily be used, but it will hook up to fancoil units as well.

Both the Unico and Multiaqua systems offer several contractor benefits:

  • No refrigerant lines are necessary, so it is environmentally advantageous.
  • There are few working parts. The system is said to be easy to install, easy to balance, and since it is charged at the factory, no refrigerant charging is required.
  • The chiller-fancoil or chiller-air handler combination provides for easy zoning.
  • The outdoor chiller can be placed at a more remote location to hide it and improve the aesthetics.
  • Hydronic contractors can use these chilled-water cooling systems to add to their heating systems.
  • Since this is not new technology, but rather a new adaptation of existing technology, it is easier to “learn” the system.

Intagliata can be reached at 314-481-9000.

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