Laboratory Evaluation Of Air Flow Measurement Methods For Residential HVAC Returns
This project improved the accuracy of air flow measurements used in commissioning California heating and air conditioning systems in Title 24 (Building and Appliance Efficiency Standards), thereby improving system performance and efficiency of California residences. The research team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addressed the issue that typical tools used by contractors in the field to test air flows may not be accurate enough to measure return flows used in Title 24 applications. The team developed guidance on performance of current diagnostics as well as a draft test method for use in future evaluations. The series of tests performed measured air flow using a range of techniques and devices. The measured air flows were compared to reference air flow measurements using inline air flow meters built into the test apparatus. The experimental results showed that some devices had reasonable results (typical errors of 5 percent or less) but others had much bigger errors (up to 25 percent). Because manufacturers’ accuracy estimates for their equipment do not include many of the sources of error found in actual field measurements (and replicated in the laboratory testing in this study) it is essential for a test method that could be used to determine the actual uncertainty in this specific application. The study team prepared a draft test method through ASTM International to determine the uncertainty of air flow measurements at residential heating ventilation and air conditioning returns and other terminals. This test method, when finalized, can be used by the Energy Commission and other entities to specify required accuracy of measurement devices used to show compliance with standards.