Adapting DOAS To Your HVAC System
There is a proven method that will meet the challenges of complying with the ASHRAE Standards, delivering precise amounts of ventilation to spaces regardless of load size, and do it cost effectively.
Known specifically as a Dedicated Outside Air System, or DOAS, the outdoor air is conditioned separately from the air that controls the building’s space temperature (dry bulb). By having one system to provide and dehumidify all the ventilation air and a second system to control the space dry bulb temperature, both humidity control and space temperature control are improved.
By conditioning the outdoor air and recirculated air independently, a DOAS effectively separates the sensible and latent loads. The outdoor-air DOAS unit removes the latent load to control humidity, and the main HVAC unit removes the sensible load to produce a comfortable temperature. This is important because the primary source of building humidity in most climate areas is fresh outdoor ventilation air that has not been properly dehumidified. Additionally, the DOAS unit can assist the main HVAC unit by controlling smaller internally generated amounts of latent load that naturally build from occupants and other sources. It does this by providing air that is slightly drier than the target humidity level. Generally speaking, a DOAS provides “neutral” air of 70ºF to 72ºF @ 50% RH.
If desired, a DOAS unit can also provide the dehumidified air directly to the space at 55°F where it will offset some of the sensible load of the local HVAC unit. By delivering the air “cold”, this operation strategy doesn’t waste the sensible cooling byproduct performed by dehumidification but allows the local heating/cooling units to be sized smaller and requires less valuable floor space. A smaller main heating/cooling system means less energy consumption through smaller fans and compressors. A DOAS delivering cold supply air requires less reheat, but some reheat may be needed during periods of low sensible loads so the space is not “over-cooled” by the DOAS unit.
A DOAS doesn’t rely on totally new technology, but rather uses HVAC equipment configured to condition outdoor ventilation air separately from return air. The outside air conditioning system design consists of a cooling/dehumidification-reheat coil and supplemental heating system. The deep evaporator coil’s consist of 10 fins per inch/6 rows deep design, positioned in the draw- through air flow arrangement that provides the most effective moisture removal efficiency. It is this technique that differentiates it from conventional HVAC systems. This configuration will cool and dehumidify air in the summer and heat or cool it in the winter.
The operation is simple in design with the outdoor air first passing through an optional preheat coil (if used), which is sometime used for winter operation. When a heat exchanger is used, it brings the outdoor air closer to the temperature and humidity of the conditioned exhaust air.
A DOAS provides design engineers installation flexibility to meet the requirements of the application. Variables facing the engineer include, but are not limited to, if it’s new construction, retrofit or an installation having an existing system in place. Other considerations include the type of new or existing HVAC system installed such as constant volume, VAV and even the newer variable refrigeration flow (VRF) terminal units.
Delivering the conditioned OA from the DOAS to where it’s needed usually includes a separate ducting system running parallel to the HVAC supply air. For many climates, an independent duct system is considered the best choice because the ventilation air volume better meets the volume requirements of the project, and the DOAS ducting can be smaller than the conventional HVAC saving on the installation cost. Smaller ducting is also easier to manage in retrofit and existing HVAC installations.
A popular alternative ducting choice is a single duct system where the conditioned OA is blended with return air from the main HVAC system in a mixing box, or in a terminal unit that serves just one zone. If using a multi-zoned HVAC control system, individual zones are controlled separately and the DOAS will deliver the proper amount of outdoor air directly to each zone. In all cases, the DOAS can vary the fraction of ventilation to supply air, which can reduce the outdoor airflow rate by 40 percent by conditioning only the amount of air necessary for each zone.