MIRAMAR, FL — Years ago, a man had a vision of a chilled water system that would be more energy efficient and simpler to install.

Ralph Feria, president of Multiaqua, spent years in the hvac industry building, installing, and servicing mini-split products before he came up with an idea: Why not build a small chiller and, instead of pumping refrigerant to fancoils, use sophisticated controls and limited line lengths to pump water?

That simple idea is now being embraced in North America, Latin America, and the Middle East.

However, Feria found that many contractors had the idea that chillers were beyond their technical expertise. Many had the notion that chillers were only designed for commercial applications, like hotels and large office buildings, and were not an option for homes, smaller offices, and process applications. To the people at Multiaqua, these preconceptions could not be further from the truth.

“Chillers do not have to be overly complicated,” said Chuck Brewer, North American sales manager for Multiaqua. “They do not have to be considered as behemoth machines that take an engineering degree to apply. Our system is simply designed, simple to install, energy efficient, and small enough that it will not overwhelm a contractor’s ability to use it.”

The chillers come in 3-, 4-, and 5-ton capacities and can be matched with a variety of ductless chilled water fancoils. The system is designed to satisfy the requirements of both residential and light commercial applications.

But how can these chiller units benefit the typical residential/light commercial contractor?

Saving Money,Increasing Business

Brewer asserted that with the chiller system, it is possible for the contractor to actually save money on first cost, installation, and life-cycle cost over the installation of a typical ductless split system and even a traditional ducted system.

The system makes use of a self-contained R-22 refrigerant system that chills water via a brazed-plate heat exchanger and then pumps it to the area or process where heat needs to be removed. The fact that the system pumps water rather than refrigerant means flexibility in zoning and sizing the terminal unit to match the load in the conditioned space.

In addition, since there is no ductwork involved with the installation of the chiller system, hundreds of square feet of space normally used for ductwork are left open — and there is 0% air conditioning capacity duct loss. According to Brewer, this will save the customer money, deliver promised capacity, make local power providers happy, and reflect well on the contractor who installed the unit.

Brewer also points out that, since there is no ductwork, the Multiaqua system is ideal for those homes with allergy sufferers.

He said that it is a great alternative solution for standard mini-splits, multi-splits, process chillers, rooftop applications, and refrigerant-based, central ducted systems. It is also a great adjunct product to hydronic, boiler-based systems where the hydronic contractor is seeking a high-end air conditioning solution.

Chillers roll down the assembly line at the Multiaqua warehouse.

Zoning Homes and Offices

“The ability to zone a space, like a small office building or a home, is a key aspect to the chiller system,” said Brewer. “Diversity and load shifting are allowed through the design, reducing total capacity required and thus reducing energy costs.”

The chillers can be matched with a multiple array of chilled water fancoils and can be operated from a central thermostat or individual controls, depending on preference. In addition, infrared controls or hard-wired controls are available.

“The Multiaqua fancoils are compatible with large chillers manufactured by others, and boilers,” said Brewer. “All they need is water to get the job done.”

Also, the chiller does not care how many or what type of fancoils it is pumping to, it just does the job it is designed to do.

“The chiller is dumb,” said Brewer. “As long as the application is within the operational characteristics of the chiller, it will chill water at a specified temperature, pump it at a defined rate and up to a specific head pressure, to anything.”

Will They Work For Your Project?

Here is a simple list put together by Brewer that can tell a contractor if the Multiaqua units will apply to a project they have in mind. Projects that would be good candidates for Multiaqua’s system include:

  • A remodel of an old building, where ductwork is difficult or impossible;
  • A room that is filled with computer hardware that cannot be kept cool;
  • A conference room that cannot be kept cool without freezing the rest of the office;
  • A high-end home with media room and/or wine cellar that no one can figure out how to control;
  • A process that requires a small amount of chilled water to maintain;
  • An old school that now needs air conditioning without resorting to a central plant;
  • A new office in the middle of the factory;
  • Applications where long refrigerant lines are reducing capacity or causing compressor lockouts;
  • An application where the owner does not want the air conditioning system right outside the home or the office;
  • An application where zoning is the best solution, but doing it with ductwork will exceed alotted costs; and
  • A 7.5- to 10-ton or more chilled water application where you would like to offer redundancy and unloading.
  • Within the next year, Multiaqua will introduce a heat pump version of these chiller units that will provide hot water along with chilled water.

    For more information, call 954-431-1300 or visit www.multiaqua.com (website).

    Publication date: 04/23/2001