Why Heating Systems Aren’t Enough to Efficiently Warm Your Facility

November 17, 2016 by Jaylin Krell

An icicleWarming your building is a critical concern now that the warmer months of the year are behind us and winter is quickly approaching. Most facility managers and building operators are focused on their heating systems, but even if you have a top-quality heating system in perfect condition, it may not be enough to sufficiently warm your space.

The Stratification Challenge

Everyone learns in science class that heat rises. What’s not so obvious is the effect this has on a building’s climate. When warmer air rises above cooler air, it tends to create an effect known as thermal stratification, a phenomenon that results in layers of air at different temperatures:

Stratification is especially problematic in facilities with high ceilings, like large warehouses and hangars. Even if these buildings are pumping out warm air, there’s a good chance that it is rising up to the ceiling, where it won’t be effective at keeping employees and equipment warm.

Heating Systems are Complex

An industrial-grade heating system capable of cooling down a commercial facility has many different moving parts. You need to make sure elements like the coil, cabinet, and control box are all clean and in working order. Inspections and cleanings must happen at least once a year – and even then, there’s no guarantee that the system will work properly. One minor malfunction could cause your heating system to go offline for hours or even days, resulting in an unsuitable workplace and damage to equipment and inventory.

Heating a Large Building Can Be Expensive

Heating and cooling are generally the largest energy costs for any commercial building. Research from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that heating accounts for a quarter of energy use in commercial buildings, a much higher level than things like, water heating, and lighting.

If you have a large building or an old heating system, the problem can be even worse. You could end up cranking up your heat higher and higher to meet the demand for warmth in your building, which causes your energy bills to skyrocket and might not even make that much of a difference on your climate control.

The Solution: An HVLS Fan Running in Reverse

It probably seems counterintuitive that a fan would help with heating concerns. But sophisticated HVLS fans can be run in reverse, which changes the direction of their airflow. Instead of pushing air downwards in a large column, an HVLS fan running in reverse pulls air up and pushes it down along the walls of a building. This circulates the air without creating a breeze.

In a large commercial building experiencing stratification, this effect is valuable for breaking up the different layers of heat that accumulate over time. The HVLS fan acts as a thermal equalizer by pulling cold air up from the floor and pushing down warm air that has accumulated near the ceiling. Pulling the warm air down also minimizes heat loss through the roof.

The Final Word on Commercial Heating

It’s great to have a powerful heating system that pushes out warm air to keep your building comfortable in the cooler months of winter. But if you have a large building with high ceilings, your heating system isn’t working the way you expected, or your building is experiencing thermal stratification, an HVLS fan could be the perfect solution for keeping your facility comfortable in chilly weather.

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