Measuring Outdoor Air Intake Rates into Existing Building-Final Report

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Practical and accurate technologies are needed for continuously measuring and controlling outdoor air (OA) intake rates in commercial building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. This project evaluated two new measurement approaches. Laboratory experiments determined that OA flow rates were measurable with errors generally less than 10 percent using electronic air velocity probes installed between OA intake louver blades or at the outlet face of louvers. High accuracy was maintained with OA flow rates as low as 15 percent of the maximum for the louvers. Thus, with this measurement approach HVAC systems do not need separate OA intakes for minimum OA supply. System calibration parameters are required for each unique combination of louver type and velocity sensor location but calibrations are not necessary for each system installation. The research also determined that the accuracy of measuring OA flow rates with velocity probes located in the duct downstream of the intake louver was not improved by installing honeycomb airflow straighteners upstream of the probes. Errors varied with type of upstream louver, were as high as 100 percent, and were often greater than 25 percent. In conclusion, use of electronic air velocity probes between the blades of OA intake louvers or at the outlet face of louvers is a highly promising means of accurately measuring rates of OA flow into HVAC systems. The use of electronic velocity probes downstream of airflow straighteners is less promising, at least with the relatively small OA HVAC inlet systems employed in this research.

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