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Commercial buildings that require a significant amount of cooling often use water chillers because they are effective and affordable. Chilled water applications involve the measurement of flow for chilled water and supply/return temperature, staging of chillers and BTU metering/sub-metering. Flow meters help enhance system efficiency, limit how frequently the system runs and lower operating costs.
The chilled water system cools water to between 40° F and 45° F and then pumps it through a closed loop into the building and connected air handlers to provide cool air. When a chiller load drops to 40% or less, the chiller plant operator or chief engineer will stage down the system and reduce the number of operating units to increase efficiency and load. If the chiller is overloaded, it will malfunction and be damaged. Similarly, when a chiller reaches 60% load, operators will stage it up and turn on another chiller to reduce system load.
Flow meters enhance the efficiency of existing chilled water systems and limit how often the equipment runs, lowering operating costs without affecting its operation.
Facilities managers, engineers and other key stakeholders have the important responsibility of precisely staging chillers and monitoring and maximizing chilled water system efficiency. They also have the difficult task of finding meters that measure flow with accuracies of 2% or better and temperature differentials better than 0.1° F. Additionally, meters must successfully convert flow rate and supply and convert temperature into BTU or TONN usage, so operators can closely monitor system staging. Each recommended technology below offers its own unique benefits to do exactly that.
Ultrasonic meters are a leading solution for their nonintrusive design and unmatched accuracy. Take the Dynasonics® TFX-5000 ultrasonic clamp-on flow meter, for example—it clamps onto the pipe’s exterior and uses transit-time technology to measure flow with an accuracy range of ± 0.5%. The best part is this meter can be installed without shutting down operation or cutting into the pipe, which is both expensive and time-consuming.
Electromagnetic flow meters—also called mag meters or magnetic meters—are volumetric flow meters that have no moving parts. They are an ideal option for HVAC applications or those that involve dirty liquid that is conductive or water-based. A top selection is our ModMAG® M-Series® M2000 electromagnetic flow meter, which features an advanced, user-friendly design that measures flow with more speed and precision than other options, boasting accuracies of ± 0.2%.
Inline or insertion impeller flow sensors are installed into the pipe via a small hole. The meter’s four-blade impeller design then measures the velocity of the flow that passes through it. Our Impeller SDI Series flow sensor comes in an easy-to-install package and offers accuracies of ± 1.0%. Added benefits include that it is rugged and non-fouling and doesn’t require custom calibration.
Differential pressure flow meters introduce a constriction in the pipe that creates a pressure drop across the flow meter. The meter then measures the pressure change before and after the constriction to provide an accurate measurement. Consider our Preso® meters—they’re precision-engineered to provide exceptional turndown ratios and superior accuracy.
Each of the described meter technologies can be paired with our FC-5000 BTU Flow Computer to provide granular data that is specifically designed for control operations. Pair the FC-5000 with a flow meter input and two temperatures (supply and return) to achieve BTU usage calculations, which show how resources are being used.