HVAC, Fans & Thermal Management


What Does HVAC Stand For?

hvac fans and thermal managementHVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. It is a catchall term that describes the process, design, equipment and nature of indoor heating and cooling. As far as sciences go, it is part of mechanical engineering but incorporates many other sciences. Incorporates sciences including thermodynamics, heat transfer, refrigeration, fluid mechanics and more.

HVAC is a part of most any indoor environment. From the largest skyscrapers to the smallest, most economical houses, HVAC systems provide a means to maintain comfort indoors during cold and warm weather and, increasingly, very efficient and reliable means of doing so.


Why is Air Conditioning Important?

Air conditioning is generally used to refer to cooling off the air inside a building. Technically, however, air conditioning can refer to heating, providing ventilation and, in some cases, even removing contaminants from indoor air. Essentially, air conditioning can refer to anything that has to do with changing the state of the air inside a building.

Air conditioning is vital to modern life. Some areas of the world, particularly the tropics and desert regions, would be nearly uninhabitable if it were not for some sort of air conditioning system. In fact, air conditioning systems have been created in various designs over centuries. From ventilation systems that passively encouraged fresh air to enter into a building to the most advanced air exchange systems in use today, air conditioning is usually a part of a building.

In today's world, air conditioning is primarily important because it provides for a level of comfort indoors that would not be possible otherwise. In hot regions, it allows the air to be cooled off so that the interior of a home or a building is habitable. For people who have sensitivities to certain contaminants in the air, air conditioning can provide an effective means of filtering the air and providing a more comfortable environment.

Air conditioning is also vital for electronic equipment. In network rooms, air conditioning is generally employed to keep the temperature within a very narrow range. This provides a means to ensure that electronic equipment is functioning at its optimal levels and that no damage is being done from conditions that are too hot or too cold for the devices. Additionally, humidity can be controlled in this way, eliminating conditions in which the electronic equipment may be damaged by too much moisture in the air.

Air conditioning involves more than air conditioning units. Air conditioning, particularly in the modern world, can employ very environmentally friendly means of controlling the temperature in a building.


What Applications Are Dependent on Air Conditioning?

Air conditioning is a requirement in any situation when airflow has to be controlled in some regard. This can mean something as simple as cooling off and office space so that workers are more comfortable or enterprises as advanced as cleaning, dehumidifying and cooling the air in a large network room.

In particular, computing is very much dependent upon air conditioning. Computers are well known to put out vast amounts of heat during normal operation but, at the same time, the components that make up computers are very susceptible to being damaged from too much heat. This means that air conditioning is an integral part of any computing operation of any scale. Even on a very small scale, small network rooms with one or two servers tend to have air conditioning units installed for this purpose.

In some cases, air conditioning has to be employed to allow for construction. For example, in very hot or cold areas, construction crews may work in environments where a temporary form of air conditioning is installed to make it possible for them to work comfortably and to make it possible for some of the materials they use to cure and dry properly.

Any time the environment is not suitable for a given application, air conditioning becomes a concern. It provides a solution that makes it possible for people to work year-round, to operate very demanding equipment without that equipment overheating and more.


What Are Air Conditioning Units?

air conditioning unitAir conditioning units, in most cases, are specifically devices that provide a cooling function. These come in many different designs, allowing them to be installed during the construction phase of the house, after the fact or, in some cases, as simple units that cool off one room only.

A familiar type of air conditioning unit will be the window air conditioning unit. This is a device that installs directly in the window in a home, allowing cool air to be blown into the room and hot air to be blown out of the room. This provides a very simple solution for people who live in buildings that do not have a central air system installed.

Not all air conditioning units use a refrigerant to provide the cooling effect. For example, evaporative coolers are utilized in dry climates. These are sometimes called swamp coolers. These coolers don't use a refrigerant, but instead pull air into the device and force it through a sponge or a pad that is saturated with water. This increases the feeling of comfort in the room by introducing humidity. One of the disadvantages of this type of air conditioning is that, if there is a high level of humidity, the effect is not as profound.

One of the primary differences between these types of air conditioners and more common types is that, when using an evaporative cooler, air is deliberately drawn into the building from the outside to provide the dry air that is cooled by adding moisture. Most other air conditioning systems rely on the building in which they are operating being sealed off from outside air, preventing the temperature from being increased and increasing the workload on the device.


What Are Climate Control Units?

A climate control unit provides a way for people to control the temperature in a given environment without manual intervention. The most common examples of these are thermostats. The user simply selects the temperature on the thermostat and, if the temperature goes above or drops below that desired temperature, the heating or cooling kicks in.

A climate control unit requires that sensors are installed. More advanced climate control units may have many different sensors attached to them, allowing different rooms in a building to be controlled individually. Simpler examples may include only one sensor, such as the temperature gauge on the thermostat that monitors the temperature near it and turns the heating on or off - or the cooling on or off - depending upon the temperature level at any given time.


What Are Air Filters and How Do They Work?

air filtersIn the broadest terms, an air filter functions like any other filter. It selectively allows some materials to pass through while preventing other materials from passing through.

Most air filters are made out of paper or a fibrous material. Air passes through the filter, which allows the air itself to pass through, but which catches pollutants such as dust, lint, pollen and other problematic materials. Those materials become suspended in the filter and remain there until the filter is changed.

The function of an air filter is dependent upon them being changed on a regular basis. As air filters are used, they become clogged with material, reducing airflow that they permit through the device and diminishing the efficiency of any HVAC system to which they are attached. Changing air filters is usually part of a summer and winter ritual for homeowners with central air systems.

Air filters are used in any application where air conditioning is being employed.


What is Air Management?

Air management refers to the broad management of the quality of air, the temperature of air and its other properties. Air management may involve the removal of allergens, such as pollen, from an interior environment where somebody is susceptible to reacting to them. It may also involve heating or cooling the air to provide the correct operating temperature for equipment or simply to provide a comfortable temperature in which humans can dwell.


What is Electronics Heating and Cooling?

Electronics heating and cooling is accomplished by many different means. Some of the means are entirely mechanical, such as intake and exhaust fans installed on computer and server cases. In other cases, however, electronics may need more advanced cooling to function properly.

Electronic heating and cooling is engineered so that it keeps equipment operating at the optimal temperature for that equipment. This means that temperature cannot exceed a certain range and that it cannot drop below a certain range, either situation being able to cause difficulty for the equipment.

Because electronic equipment does tend to produce a great deal of heat, a means of removing heated air from the room is usually included in any electronic heating and cooling scheme. This applies on the large and small scales. On a smaller scale, a CPU fan made shunt heat from a heatsink into the case, where it is ejected from the case by an exhaust fan. The same model can be employed on a scaled up basis for an entire room, along with the addition of introducing refrigerated air into the room, dissipating heat from the equipment.


What are Electronics Humidity and Pressure Control Devices?

Electronics humidity and pressure control devices are specifically used to control the level of moisture in an environment where electronics are operating and to control the air pressure. These devices are often remarkably simple.

Dessicants are often utilized to control the moisture in electronic devices. These are commonly made out of substances such as silica gel, which draws in moisture from the air and reduces the overall humidity in the environment. Pressure can be controlled via fans or other means that introduce or remove air from an environment. Sensors are commonly used along with these devices to ensure that they are triggered at the appropriate times.


What are Fans?

A mechanical fan is one of the most common devices in the world. Most fans consist of a system of rotating blades that are capable of moving air or moving liquids. In heating and cooling, they are typically used to move air from one part of the building to another or through the ducting in an HVAC system.

Fans can also provide cooling by moving air around a room and causing cooler air to move up and hotter air to move down. This can equalize the temperature in a room. Fans can also be used to introduce or remove pressure from an environment.


What is HVAC Ducting?

Ducting is the system of pipes and outlets that are utilized to move air through an HVAC system. HVAC Ducting can be utilized to introduce air into an environment or to remove air from an environment. Sheet metal is commonly used to make ducts, though other materials are used in some instances.


What are HVAC Sensors?

hvac sensorsHVAC sensors provide information about the interior environment, allowing for overall air management. They can provide information on properties as simple as temperature and humidity. They can also provide specific information on other properties of an interior environment, as well. For example, in very advanced applications, carbon dioxide levels may need to be monitored, pressure may need to be monitored or levels of carbon monoxide may need to be monitored. There are sensors available that can detect all of these things and, when used with an HVAC system, that can trigger an appropriate response from that system, allowing management of the environment.


What are HVAC Controllers?

hvac controllersHVAC controllers take information from HVAC sensors and trigger an appropriate response from the HVAC system. For example, if the air pressure in a network room becomes too high, that information will be transmitted from the sensors to the HVAC controllers. The HVAC controllers, in such an instance, may trigger exhaust fans, moving air out of the room and reducing the overall pressure.

HVAC controllers make it possible for these systems to function without manual intervention. If a house is too cold, the controllers turn on the furnace. If a house is too hot, the controllers turn on the cooling unit. These allow for fully automated building systems, which provide great control over the interior environment.