Why Phenolic Insulation is a Wise Choice

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After throwing down their bags and sighing with relief, one of the first things many hotel guests do after checking in is adjust their room’s air conditioner settings. Regardless of whether they’ve booked a one-night layover in a motel or a lavish weeklong stay in a five-star resort, most guests consider room temperature control an absolute necessity for a comfortable stay and sleep. What they may not consider is that this precise control is often made possible by a chilled water system. And, if few guests consider their out-of-sight temperature control technology, even fewer think of the insulation protecting this system and their own safety.

Chilled water piping is prone to unique moisture problems and presents a demanding application for insulation. A successful chilled water insulation material must provide high-energy efficiency, condensation control, and precise fire code compliance. Considering these factors, phenolic insulation is often the best bet for chilled water.

Chilled Water Systems: The Basics

Commercial and residential chilled water systems are similar in principle to conventional air conditioners, but with a few key differences. Cool water is circulated to an electric chiller that lowers water temperature to around 45° F or less. The chilled water is pumped to an air handling unit, where it captures ambient heat and disperses cool air throughout the room. This is different from a conventional air conditioning system where the evaporator within the electric chiller directly cools the air rather than chilling the water.

Chilled water systems vary widely in size and complexity, and large systems often feature a precise control system of pumps, valves, and actuators. Residential systems, while quite rare, may consist of a single small chiller and minimal piping. By contrast, large commercial and industrial systems may feature chillers weighing several hundred tons and a vast network of piping. For example, the air conditioning system installed in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure, contains 21 miles of chilled water piping and produces the cooling equivalent of 10,000 tons of melting ice daily.

Chilled water systems are ideal for buildings requiring individual cooling for each room. These include schools, hotels, hospitals, and even multi-family residential dwellings. Continue Reading