Parametric System Curves: Correlations Between Fan Pressure Rise and Flow for Large Commercial Buildings

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A substantial fraction of HVAC energy use in large commercial buildings is due to fan operation. Fan energy use depends in part on the relationship between system pressure drop and flow through the fan, which is commonly called a "system curve". As a step toward enabling better selections of air-handling system components and analyses of common energy efficiency measures such as duct static pressure reset and duct leakage sealing, this paper shows that a simple four-parameter physical model can be used to define system curves. Our model depends on the square of the fan flow, as is commonly considered. It also includes terms that account for linear-like flow resistances such as filters and coils, and for supply duct leakage when damper positions are fixed or are changed independently of static pressure or fan flow. Only two parameters are needed for systems with variable-position supply dampers (e.g., VAV box dampers modulating to control flow). For these systems, reducing or eliminating supply duct leakage does not change the system curve.The parametric system curve may be most useful when applied to field data. Non-linear techniques could be used to fit the curve to fan pressure rise and flow measurements over a range of operating conditions. During design, when measurements are unavailable, one could use duct design calculation tools instead to determine the coefficients.

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