Homeowners who want to prolong the life of their homes invest in insulation. Insulation of pipings and ducts ensures that your building goes a long way, and there are no additional problems on the premises. Insulating pipes and tubes can help to prevent heat loss from the pipings and ducts and thus contributes towards the energy efficiency of the building. The same scenario occurs with the cooling systems. Cooling systems also cause a lot of energy loss while transferring the substances in the pipes. This increases the operational costs of the piping systems. Also, thermal losses incurred by the piping systems cause fluctuations to the desired temperature in the central cooling system. The HVAC insulation includes HVAC components that range between 30% to 60% of the building’s overall energy usage.
Thermal insulation also provides the prevention of icing of water vapors that are caused due to the condensation on a chilled surface. It is essential to prevent the water vapor that is present in the surrounding area to keep away from the cold side of the pipe. This helps in the prevention of condensation of water vapors and of the moisture from the air that is present on the outer part of the piping.
The insulation is the vapor barrier that helps to keep the condensation at bay. As condensation can cause serious damage to the areas that are near the pipings and ducts, like furnishings and other materials, the insulation needs to act as a barrier between them.
Other benefits of the HVAC insulation include absorbing sound and vibration to reduce the noise level, prevention of fire from spreading, and the addition of substantial structural strength to the overall building. Modern HVAC insulation also provides piping protection from UV light, salts, harmful chemicals, eroding dust, and different types of oils.
What should the lines of the HVAC system be insulated?
Now that you know how important it is for the HVAC System to be insulated, but how would you distinguish between the ones that need insulation and that do not.
- Cold lines
Cold lines in the HVAC system must be adequately insulated. These lines ensure the proper transfer of cooling gases. To prevent the condensation of the moistures that lie on the cold pipes, these cold lines must be insulated.
- Liquid lines
These lines do not require any kind of insulation because these lines operate at a higher temperature than the surrounding air. The heat loss in the liquid lines is made intentionally to increase the system capacity.
- Suction lines
Suction lines also need to be insulated, just like cold lines. Although suction lines are a bit different from the cold lines in an operational manner, the insulation required in both the systems is the same. These lines are insulated to prevent sweating from heat gain. Heat gain causes loss of system capacity as the heat gained in the system is dissipated by the condenser. So the more heat the system gains, the condenser gains more load. This affects the overall capacity of the condenser, thus reducing the overall capacity and efficiency of the air-conditioning system.
- Discharge lines
Discharge lines do not require any kind of insulation. These lines discharge the heat from the air conditioning system condenser. Not insulating these lines increases the system capacity.
Internal vs. External insulation
The performance of the HVAC system also depends upon the type of insulation. Insulating internally and externally both affect the systems in a different manner and have different impacts on the overall efficiency of the system. For example, the sonic liner is a type of internal insulation. This type of internal insulation increases the acoustic performance as well as the thermal performance of the whole system. On the other hand, duct wrap is a common example of external insulation. Duct wrap has no effect on thermal performance but increases the protective performance. The duct wrap also gives acoustic performance benefits as it is gained from natural products such as glass wool.
Sonic liner insulation has a glass facing side to the systems, while the duct wrap insulation has a foil facing side to the systems. This foil facing makes the duct wrap apt insulation to prevent condensation on the pipes and makes them more durable.
Also, whichever insulation is chosen, the insulation must be non-combustible. So while insulating the HVAC systems, special attention must be paid to this requirement. The insulation must comply with the legislative requirements. For example, this non-combustible clause is introduced for the insulation of HVAC systems because combustible materials can be dangerous and are not fit with the legislative requirements for insulation in terms of maximum lengths for insulation.
Insulation of HVAC systems is necessary as it has many benefits. These benefits include energy efficiency, sound and vibration absorption, noise reduction, and extended durability.