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How to Heat your Warehouse or Large Production Facility 09/01/2017

Delivering effective and efficient heating for such large facilities presents a number of challenges for the engineer and great care must be taken in terms of design and equipment selection to ensure system efficiency and that the correct air distribution is achieved to ensure comfort for occupants or in the case of temperature sensitive storage such as Pharmaceutical products that an even temperature is created and maintained throughout the warehouse.

Getting this slightly wrong in such a large space can magnify any deficiency in the design.

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Ultimately, there are 2 basic concepts to consider, these being warm air heating and radiant heating.

Warm Air Heating

Warm air heating as the name suggests delivers warm air directly into the building. Numerous types of “off the shelf” warm air heaters are available from suspended unit heater types and Floor mounted units which can be located internally or externally together with bespoke system types.

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Ultimately, this air needs to be distributed and the units can be free blowing or ductwork can be used to distribute the air evenly.  However, as we know “warm air rises” so it is fair to say that with all conventional gas fired warm air unit heaters then destratification systems should also be used to maximise efficiencies and ensure an even temperature distribution.  Where more bespoke warm air heating systems are utilised, such as an air handling system, then the supply air temperature can be more easily controlled, thus limiting stratification. However, the capital cost of such systems are likely to be more than a unit heater approach.

Warm air heating utilising high velocity ductwork distribution systems can also be utilised and has been a popular choice in recent years for providing an efficient method of heating and cooling large warehouses.  The advantages of such systems is that a higher velocity of air allows ductwork sizes to be minimised and the use of nozzle type diffusers which inject air into the space at a high velocity thus entraining the high level surrounding air as it does so to create an even temperature distribution in the building.  However, these system types do not allow easily for internal layout changes and recent EU directives provide challenges to this system type efficiency.

 

Air Rotation

The principle of air rotation is increasing in popularity now in the UK. This principle is to move large volumes of air at a low velocity and at a controlled temperature.  The heater draws in cooler air at floor level which is then heated and discharged at high level effectively destratifying the building and creating an even temperature distribution.

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Image: Powrmatic air rotation heater

The advantage of such system types allows 1 heater to heat a large space where previously 3 or 4 heaters with a destratification system would be required. Therefore, capital costs are lower, installation time is faster, no ductwork is required, efficiency is high and a lower maintenance cost.

 

Radiant Heating

Finally, we have radiant type heaters which very efficiently heat large buildings as they do not heat the air directly.  Working as the sun works, Radiant heaters produce infrared heat that does not heat the air directly but heats the surfaces, people and solid objects in its path which in turn creates an all-round radiant warmth at a lower air temperature than would be required with a warm air type system.

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Picture: radiant heaters from ambirad

This selection provides low running costs, is excellent for spot heating, provides rapid and almost instantaneous heat, is great for buildings with high infiltration and can be easily controlled in zones.

The importance of control with all system types should not be overlooked. It’s imperative that energy efficient controls are selected and implemented to ensure maximum efficiency is achieved, monitored and maintained with any system type.

 

Summary

This short blog is intended to provide the end user with a brief overview of options and considerations for such a project and the support of an experienced professional engineering company should be sought.

Ultimately there is no one solution fits all.  Every warehouse or production facility is different and it is important that a bespoke design is carried out by experienced and professional engineers. They will consider the specific requirements of each site and that the most appropriate system is selected taking into consideration the many factors that are involved.

Cosaf Environments have been successfully designing and applying such systems for over 20 years and if we can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to get in contact.

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