By Marcel Ley, Victaulic regional sales managerBy Marcel Ley, Victaulic regional sales manager

Although HVAC systems have evolved, one thing remains consistent – the need for adequate and sealed piping systems.

In order to mitigate leaks, grooved mechanical couplings can be used to join sections of piping, and provide an effective seal.. Image credit” IMD

Human civilisations have always ensured that their dwellings and homesteads are both safe as well as comfortable as possible. This lent to the advent of early HVAC systems, which ensured that people in cold regions remained warm, while those in hot areas were cooled down.

Modern society is spoilt when compared to societies of the past, with HVAC systems everywhere we go, from work to the malls, hospitals and even our homes. We are now able to regulate our environment to make us as comfortable as possible, as well as safe from unwanted germs and air-borne bacteria.

The majority of early civilisations made use of crude HVAC systems in order to keep warm or cool. Rome was one of the first cities to manipulate the air within a dwelling. The city made use of a hypocaust system that would push heated air through a system of air ducts and under raised floor in order to heat a room and was primarily used to heat public bathhouses and saunas.

By the 1950s, air conditioning units as we know them hit mainstream popularity, and during the post-World War II economic booms, millions of units were installed into American homes. By 1980, Toshiba had presented an inverter-type compressor air conditioning unit which increased efficiencies by 30%, and so began the trend of manufacturing units that will not only perform but be as efficient as possible.

In commercial buildings, HVAC systems often present the highest energy expense, and geographical location plays a significant role in the amount of energy used. Locations typically far north or south of the globe usually have high heating expenses, while those closer to the equator are typically prone to cooler requirements and require air conditioning year-round.

South Africa’s warmer climate necessitates for air conditioning in commercial buildings. As is the case with air conditioning options for home usage, there are a broad array of HVAC solutions for commercial buildings. These include variable-air-volume (VAV) types with an accompanying rooftop unit, a chiller with an accompanying cooling tower and boiler system, and water-source heat pump systems that are accompanied by a cooling tower and boiler.

The various new technologies within the HVAC sector are focusing on system efficiency and renewable energy sources. The trend of going greener and more efficient has led to new technologies to enable this vision. As such, countless industries and businesses are swapping their energy-thirsty systems for ones that offer greater efficiencies and rely on renewable energies.
South Africa in particular will focus largely on new technologies as more and more buildings are constructed in major cities. And with an ever-increasing strain placed on the South African power grid, many are looking to cut costs and make use of renewable energies.

New innovations such as smart HVACs, desiccant-enhanced evaporative (DeVAP) systems, solar HVACs and geothermal alternatives are gaining popularity as industries are looking towards a greener and more efficient future.

Supported by the Internet of Things (IoT), Smart HVAC systems allow users to control, monitor and interact with their systems via internet connectivity. DeVAP HVAC systems absorb water from surrounding areas and provide cooling via the use of an evaporative cooling system. Solar HVAC solutions make use of solar panels to absorb the suns’ thermal energy and heat up a fluid which runs through a heat exchanger and warms up the building.

Geothermal HVAC systems makes use of an earth loop, which refers to a system of underground pipes. As air temperature above ground fluctuates throughout the year, the temperature in the ground below 6-feet remains more consistent. Water runs through these underground pipes and depending on time of year, they are either heated or cooled by the temperature of the ground. This water then travels to an indoor unit, where a fan, pump and compressor are used to deliver temperate air to other parts of the house or building.

Although the HVAC sector is looking towards a greener future, one aspect of its installation remains the same, the need for system piping solutions. The downfall of many solutions is the unplanned system efficiency primarily due to piping issues, and particularly in the leaking of the HVAC units.

As an HVAC system is a closed loop, the fluid (refrigerant) or water inside the system must flow effectively without escaping. A properly functioning HVAC system relies heavily on the availability of the fluid or refrigerant to ensure proper operation.

In order to mitigate leaks, grooved mechanical couplings can be used to join sections of piping, and provide an effective seal. The couplings do not require skilled labour to install, and with merely simple tools, the installer can fit the coupling with the use of two integrated nuts and bolts.

Negating the need for skilled labour as well as its quick installation properties results in reducing costs, empowering installers with a solution that is beneficial to their businesses. Victaulic grooved mechanical couplings also provide thermal and seismic accommodation properties, as well as vibration-dampening which are particularly evident in HVAC projects.

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