Comfort Panels, Radiant Cooling, Thermal Comfort

Planning & Designing Ceiling Cooling Solutions Part 1

Improving comfort, working conditions and motivation is an important consideration for owners and users of commercial structures. Whether it be multi-storey buildings, office, industrial or commercial space, buildings need to provide a healthy and productive working environment.

In order to help meet this need designers and engineers turn to high-performance ceiling cooling and heating systems also known as comfort panels.

This system is an energy-efficient, noise-free and draughtless cooling and/or heating system that can be installed in a variety of buildings. As well as enhancing indoor climate, it is environmentally friendly and offers excellent long-term performance.

In this post, we will take a closer look at the design considerations needed when specifying this system.

 

Cooling & Heating Needs

To determine the cooling and heating requirements of a given interior space, any national standard which has been validated for this purpose can be used. The input data for the calculation includes dimensions, location (outdoor conditions) U values, shadings, occupation, internal loads from devices and lighting, ventilation rate, infiltration and room temperature.

radiant cooling ceiling panel

This system is a radiant system. This means that it can remove sensible loads, but not latent loads. Therefore, in non-residential buildings, careful attention must be paid to ventilation needs in order to achieve an optimal indoor environment. In most cases, a radiant ceiling system will fulfil the cooling requirements of a room or even a complete building.

Air flow needs are calculated to fulfil ventilation requirements according to European standard EN 13779, Ventilation for NonResidential Buildings: Performance Requirements for Ventilation and Room-Conditioning Systems.

Ventilation is also important to provide fresh air for the occupants, control air humidity and avoid condensation in cooling mode. Additionally, a control system that prevents condensation must be used.

 

Ceiling Suspension Systems

These cooling and heating panels are designed as lay-in ceiling panels and can be installed in a standard T grid suspended ceiling structure, that is, in an exposed grid system visible from below. The finished panels are simply placed between the suspended T grids.

Instructions and specifications of the ceiling structure supplier must be followed in order to determine:

  • Dimensions of T grids depending on the maximum weight allowed by the structure
  • The configuration of the ceiling structure and the distance between the main runners and cross tees

on site ceiling suspension system for ceiling cooling panels

 

When designing and installing the ceiling elements, attention must be paid to architectural and lighting issues, as well as the placement of sprinkler nozzles and fire detectors etc. The main piping for heating and cooling water, air conditioning ducts, wiring, sprinkler piping etc. can be installed in the space above the suspended ceiling.

 

Noise Absorption

The total noise absorption capacity (αw value) of the ceiling cooling panel is always calculated as a combination of active and acoustic panels as they have different sound absorption coefficient values.

The total noise absorption capacity of an active and acoustic panel combination has to be tested and measured in a reverberation chamber according to DIN EN ISO 11654 and DIN EN ISO 354.

Evaluated sound absorption coefficient

 

The diagram shows the relation between the cooling output of the different combinations and the absorption coefficient (αw) of the system. It shows the performance of different combinations of cooling and heating panels and acoustic panels (80/20, 60/40, 40/60).

Ceiling cooling panels are an extremely effective way to introduce radiant cooling and heating into an office building with a simple T grid installation system. In part 2, we will look at heating and cooling sources, distribution systems and control systems for comfort panels.

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