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A Guide to Air Flow Measurement

Accurate. Reliable. Every Time.

1 1.1. 1.2. 1.3. 1.4. 2 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 3 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 4 4.1. 4.2. 5 5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6. 6 6.1. 6.2. 6.3. 6.4. 6.5. 6.6. 6.7. 6.8. 6.9. 6.10. 6.11. 7 Introduction Airflow Instruments History The need for measurement Accuracy Fundamental principles Units of measurement
Definitions of velocity, volume and pressure

2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 5 5 7 7 8 8 8 9 9 9 10 10 10 11 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 15

Preferred units Sl Conversion factors Instruments for measuring velocity Anemometers Pitot static tubes Specialised instruments Measuring volume flow rate Calculating volume flow rate Measuring volume flow rate directly Instruments for measuring pressure U tube manometers Industrial manometers Precision manometers Dial gauges Pressure transducers Maintenance and calibration On site Flow in ducts Flow rate in large airways Flow at grilles Flow from ceiling diffusers Flow from slot diffusers Fan performance Static pressure Balancing systems Checking for leakage Draughts Accessories Glossary of terms


1 Introduction
1.1 Airflow Instruments History In 1955, from one man's expertise in the fields of air flow measurement and fan design, Airflow Developments Limited was founded. Airflow Instruments earned its reputation as a world leader by continually providing innovative, quality products backed by in-built reliability designed and developed by experts in air measurement and has been manufacturing to the stringent requirements of ISO9001 since 1994. In 2005, Airflow's measurement instruments division joined TSI Incorporated, combining over 90 years of expertise and innovation in air measurement. Our extensively equipped laboratories and state of the art Research & Development department continually seeks new ways of measuring air flow and other ventilation parameters. Airflow Instruments are accurate, high-quality, professional-grade instruments used by a wide range of customers including building service contractors, commissioning specialists, facility engineers, and research professionals. A special products group develops and supply tailored special solutions to meet customer specifications 1.2 The need for measurement All air flow systems have to meet certain design requirements. By use of appropriate instrumentation, actual performance can be measured and compared with the specification. The number of air changes, the balance between fresh and re-circulated air, the air temperature, movement and comfort levels within a room can all be established. The velocities, volume flow rates and leakage rates within a ductwork system can be determined. Where air is used to distribute heat it is doubly important that there are no leaks to waste energy. Where noxious fumes are present the health and safety of those working in the area must be protected with an adequate supply of fresh clean air. This booklet sets out in straightforward terms the basic principles of operation of the instruments used and their application to site situations. 1.3. Accuracy The overall accuracy of a result depends upon the accuracy of the instrument, the accuracy of the user and the accuracy of interpretation. The general accuracy of the instruments supplied by TSI Instruments Ltd is specified in the literature provided. The accuracy of an instrument may be quoted as either a percentage of full scale deflection (FSD) or as a percentage of reading for all or part of the scale. In comparing the accuracy of instruments, like must be compared with like. For example an instrument claiming 1% of reading will have to achieve a progressively reducing error with decreasing reading, i.e. 1 at 100, 0.5 at 50, 0.1 at 10. An instrument claiming 1% of FSD has an allowable constant error over the range, with a corresponding decreasing accuracy with decreasing reading i.e. 1% at 100, 2% at 50, 10% at 10. If the characteristics of a particular instrument are required then TSI Instruments Ltds laboratories can offer individual calibration. Airflow Instruments are designed to minimize operator errors such as parallax and zeroing. Instructions are provided with every instrument and, if followed, should minimize these sources of error. Site conditions seldom match laboratory conditions. Flow patterns may not be stable, volume flow may vary and difficulties of access may cause measurements to be taken at a less than ideal station. The accuracy of the basic instrument may be within 1% yet because of the nature of the site the end result may have an uncertainty of 10%. A good appreciation of what is likely to be happening to the air in the particular situation will obviously help. Air movement cannot be seen but may be identified and measured, and the resulting signals fed to recording or control devices by the use of appropriate instrumentation. 1.4 Fundamental principles Due to the depth of the earths atmosphere the air around us exerts a pressure, known as atmospheric (barometric) pressure. This is measurable with a barometer and varies slightly from day to day depending upon the weather conditions, and the altitude above or below sea level at which the measurement is made. Pressure measurements in heating and ventilating systems are usually made relative to atmospheric pressure and may be corrected to Standard Conditions to make possible a comparison between readings. Standard Conditions are internationally agreed at an air density of 1.2 kg/m3, corresponding to a barometric pressure of 1000 mbar, and a temperature of 16OC. A tube placed in a duct facing into the direction of flow will sense the total pressure in the duct (pt). Neglecting frictional losses the mean total pressure at any crosssection throughout the duct system is constant and is made up from two variable components: the static pressure (ps) and the velocity pressure (pv) pt = pv + ps The static pressure is the bursting pressure within the duct and is exerted in every direction. Static pressure measurements are taken at the wall of the duct or in a space where there is very little air movement, e.g. from the static pressure connection of a correctly aligned pitot static tube facing directly into the flow. To ensure that the static pressure readings are not influenced by the velocity pressure, the sensing hole or tapping should be at right angles to the axis of flow. The velocity pressure is the pressure in the duct due to the movement of the air. It is measured by taking the total pressure and subtracting the static pressure. pv = pt - ps 2


Fig 1. Part of the range of Airflow Instruments

More commonly, the velocity (or dynamic) pressure may be measured directly by connecting up a pitot static tube as in fig 2 to give a differential reading of pt - ps. Formulae for these calculations are shown in section 3.2. It is important to stress that site conditions varying from standard can make significant differences to results. When using formulae, adjustments should be made taking into account temperature and barometric pressure. For instance, 125Pa velocity pressure at sea level indicates 14.43 m/s velocity whereas the same velocity pressure at 1500m altitude indicates 15.56 m/s a difference of 7.8%. As a further example, for air at 125 Pa velocity pressure, equivalent velocities are 15.61 m/s at 65OC and 14.3 m/s at 16OC, a difference of 8.2%. The effects of these changes on determination of air velocity from a pitot static tube are taken into account in the formulae shown in section 3.2.

Fig 2. Measuring velocity pressure with a pitot static tube


2 Units of Measurement
Velocity v 2.1 Definitions of velocity, volume and pressure Air velocity (v) Air velocity is the speed at which air passes a specified point. It is measured in metres/second. It is seldom uniform and in a duct there will normally be higher velocities near the center and much lower velocities near the walls. Plotting the velocities measured across a duct will produce a velocity profile and examples of this are shown in fig 3. This profile will become biased at corners and change its character dramatically when there are obstructions such as bends or dampers in the system close to and upstream of the measuring plane. For this reason any measurements of velocity in a duct should be made where the velocity profile is fairly symmetrical, stable and without swirl. Air volume flow rate (qv) The volume flow rate is obtained by multiplying the average velocity (v) by the cross sectional area (A) where the velocity is measured. It is expressed in cubic 3 metres/second (m /s). qv = v x A The importance of obtaining accurate values for average velocity and effective area at the plane of measurement must be stressed. Air pressure Pressure is the force acting on a unit area. It is measured in Pascals (Pa), sometimes referred to as 2 2 Newtons per square metre (N/m ). 1 Pa = 1 N/m . 2.2 Preferred units Sl Sl (Systme International) is the preferred system of units of measurement. There are however other systems still in use and conversions to Sl units are given in 2.3 below. Volume flowrate qv Pressure p Area of cross section A Temperature t 2.3 Conversion factors Approximate conversions from other units of measurement: Velocity 1 ft/min = 0.00508 m/s 1 ft/sec = 0.3048 m/s 1 mile/hr = 0.447 m/s 1 km/h = 0.278 m/s Volume flow rate 3 1 ft /min (cfm) 3 = 0.000472 m /s = 0.472 litres/s 3 3 1 ft /min = 1.70 m /h Pressure 1 N/m2 = 1 Pa 1 in wg = 249.1 Pa 1 cmH2O = 98.07 Pa 1 in mercury = 3388 Pa mercury Temperature O 5 O T F = /9 (t 32) C Length 1 inch = 25.4 mm 1 m/s = 196.8 ft/min 1 m/s = 3.281 ft/sec 1 m/s = 2.237 mile/hr 1 m/s = 3.6 km/h 1 m /s = 2120 ft /min 1 m /h = 0.588 ft /min 1 kPa = 1000 Pa 1 kPa = 4.014 in wg 1 kPa = 10.197cm H2O 5 10 Pa = 1000 mbar =29.52 in t C = 1.8t + 32 F 1 mm = 0.0394 in
O O 3 3 3 3

measure in metres per second (m/s). measure in cubic metres per second (m3/s) or litres per second (litre/s). measured in Pascals (Pa) or kilopascals (kPa). measure in square metres 2 (m ). measured in degrees O Celsius ( C).

Fig 3. Typical velocity profiles across a duct with a sudden change in cross-section


3 Instruments for Measuring Velocity

3.1 Anemometers Anemometers are instruments, which measure air speed. The vane type has a hinged vane, which is deflected when placed in the air stream, or a ring of vanes, or cups, which is caused to rotate, by the air stream. The signal produced by the instruments is in predictable relationship to the air velocity and can be measured and displayed. Thermal anemometers use the cooling effect of air passing at tiny heated element to indicate air velocity. Anemometers are not fundamental instruments and, as such, require calibration against recognized standards. Swinging vane anemometers Very early designs of vane anemometers consisted of a simple flat plate hinged at the top, the velocity being measured by the displacement of the plate from the vertical. Developments of this approach, generally referred to as tethered vane anemometers, are still available. In one of the more recent versions the hinged vane, controlled by a hair spring, is enclosed in a handheld instrument connected by short flexible pipes to a probe. The probe is inserted into the duct and allows air to enter through an upstream facing hole, pass through the instrument and return through a downstream facing hole. Rotating vane anemometers In later anemometers the vane was made to rotate like a windmill, with delicate clockwork gearing recording the number of revolutions of the vane on a multi-pointer dial. The Airflow AM 5000, first introduced in 1968, replaced the multipointer dial arrangement by a low friction digital counter and combined much greater ease of reading with very conveniently placed start, stop and re-set controls. These anemometers record the linear movement of air past the instrument in metres or feet for as long as it is held in the air stream. By noting the time with a stop watch the velocity in m/s or ft/min can be determined. In recent anemometers the rotating vane forms part of an electronic transducer; the signal is fed into electronic circuitry with its own time base, which displays the measured velocity directly and instantaneously without any need for external timing. An example of this type of instrument is the Airflow Instruments LCA301, (Fig. 4) and the LCA501, (Fig. 5).

Fig 4. LCA301 Anemometer

Fig 5. LCA501 Air velocity, Flow and Temperature Logger www.airflowinstruments.co.uk 5

As a transducer the rotating vane offers little resistance to flow and trends to give a good average reading over the area swept by the vanes. Its main weaknesses are that it is not easy to insert into any but the largest of ducts and that if there is an angular component in the flow (e.g. swirl) inaccuracies will result. To avoid the blockage problem when measuring in large airways, and also to achieve access to normally out-ofreach points, handle extension rods are available. Thermal anemometers A wet finger in the air will detect the direction of the wind because a drop in temperature is felt on the surface facing into the wind. Thermal anemometers act in a similar way, in that the passage of air takes heat away from a heated element at a rate dependent upon the velocity. This element is mounted at the end of a probe, which can be inserted into the airstream. Readout is direct and instantaneous. The method of heating the element (which can be a small length of thin wire, a simple thermocouple or an electronic component) and the read-out technique determine the quality of the instrument. Because it is a thermal device, it is important to compensate for variations in ambient temperature, pressure and composition of the gas/air being measured.

Thermal anemometers offer an effective low-cost method of measuring velocity in air. They are particularly appropriate for use at low velocities where a vane anemometer or pitot static tube would not be sensitive enough. Their principal disadvantage is that they take only a point velocity reading and a traverse is needed to obtain an average reading. In the Airflow Instruments TA range, there are two sensors: an air velocity sensor and a temperature compensation sensor. The velocity sensor is heated to an elevated temperature (relative to the surrounding air) by means of control electronics. The temperature sensor senses the ambient air temperature and forces the velocity sensor to stay at a constant overheat above the ambient. Air flowing past the velocity sensor tends to cool the sensor. As this happens, electronics immediately delivers more power to maintain the constant overheat. As more air flows past the sensor, more power is required to maintain the overheat. Thus, the power needed to maintain the constant overheat is directly related to the velocity. This is the basic principle of operation for constant temperature thermal anemometers. Thermal anemometers are also available with a temperature measuring facility, giving two capabilities in one instrument.

Fig 6. Airflow Instruments TA460 Thermal Anemometer


3.2 Pitot static tubes A small diameter tube facing into the air stream will sense total pressure. Holes at right angles to the flow will sense static pressure. These two features are combined in a pitot static tube. The difference between the two pressures gives the dynamic or velocity pressure (Pd). Velocity (m/s) = 1.291 Pd This is an adequate formula for standard or nearstandard conditions. A more precise formula taking account of temperature and barometric pressure is:

The shape of the head and the arrangement of static holes determine the characteristics of the pitot static Tube. TSI Instruments Ltd manufacture the UK National Physical Laboratorys modified ellipsoidal nose design which has a factor of almost unity and good yaw characteristics. It does not need an individual calibration curve. Used in conjunction with a precision manometer, velocities from 2.5 m/s upwards can be measured with a degree of precision increasing rapidly as the velocity increases. The pitot static tube is particularly well suited for taking velocity pressure readings in a duct, only requiring small access holes for each traverse. 3.3. Specialised Instruments Most of the instruments referred to above are portable and designed to be easily carried around. In some situations it is critical to know if an air supply is operating, and a permanently installed instrument is required. Airflow Instruments can provide special monitoring systems which give a fail-safe signal in the event of failure of flow. Levels can be pre-set and an output connection can be used for remote signaling. For the measurement of very low velocities some Airflow Instruments products give a digital readout from as low as 0.25m/s

V = 1.291





x pd 5 10 + ps



= 759.4

T x pd 5 pa (10 + ps)

Where v = air velocity in m/s T = absolute temperature in degrees Kelvin O (=t C + 273 where t is airstream temperature) pa = atmospheric pressure in Pascals (1 millibar = 100 Pascals) pd = dynamic or velocity pressure in Pascals ps = duct static pressure in Pascals

Fig 7. Pitot Static Tubes


4 Measuring Volume Flow Rate

4.1 Calculating volume flow rate If the average velocity in a duct or airway can be measured with either pitot static tube or anemometer, then by multiplying this by the area of the duct or airway at the plane of measurement the volume flow rate can be calculated. For example, if the mean velocity in a rectangular duct 0.6m by 0.8m is 8 m/s, the volume flow 3 rate is 0.6 x 0.8 x 8 = 3.84 m /s 4.2 Measuring volume flow rate directly It is possible to build orifice plates and venturi tubes into ductwork systems to provide pressure signals, which can be translated into volume, flow rate. To conform with BS 1042 it is necessary to have long straight approaches and these are not always practical. Recognising this problem Airflow Instruments developed a device called the Wilson Flow Grid. Designed for permanent installation, the Wilson Flow Grid gives extremely good results even when placed fairly close to a bend or other obstruction. It consists of an arrangement of tubes with upstream and downstream holes, which, with very little loss, give volume, flow rate results comparable in accuracy to those obtained by a full pitot static traverse. Almost any departure from a straight duct or intrusion into the duct will create a pressure drop, which will have a predictable relationship to volume flow rate. This may be established by site testing for by application of accepted formulae for standard configurations. A good example is the British Standard conical inlet see BS 848: Part 1: 1980, clause 21.

Fig 8. Wilson Flow Grid


5 Instruments for Measuring Pressure

5.1 U tube manometers Although probably the oldest method of measuring low pressures, the simple U tube manometer has much to commend it. If a U shaped glass tube is half filled with liquid, say water, and a pressure is applied to one of the limbs, the other being open to atmosphere, the liquid will move to balance the pressure. The weight of liquid so displaced will be proportional to the pressure applied. As the difference in height of the two columns of liquid and the density are known, the pressure can be calculated. Each millimeter height difference of water column represents approximately 10 Pascals. 5.2 Industrial manometers The disadvantages of the simple U-tube manometer are overcome and other advantages incorporated in Airflow Instruments range of single limb industrial manometers in which it is only necessary to read one liquid level. In the Airflow Instruments design one of the limbs of the U-tube is replaced by a reservoir, thus substantially increasing the surface area. A pressure applied to this reservoir causes the level of fluid to move by a small, calculable amount. The same volume of fluid displaced in the glass limb reduces a considerable change in the level. This nearly doubles the resolution compared with a U-tube manometer for vertical instruments and gives much greater magnification when the limb is inclined. The manometer fluid may be plain water but problems can arise from algae growth in the tube causing the density of the fluid to alter. Airflow Instruments manometers are filled with a special blend of paraffin dyed red for ease of reading. The advantages of this fluid are the free moving meniscus, the freedom from tube staining and the expanded scales due to the low O relative density of 0.784 at 20 C. For very low pressures the manometer limb is inclined, as mentioned above, to improve the resolution further.

Fig 9. Principle of U-tube manometer A disadvantage of the U-tube is that the scale has to be constantly moved to line up with the moving zero. Alternatively with zero taken at the center point the scale length is halved with subsequent loss of resolution. In some designs a double scale is employed and the pressure value obtained mathematically from the readings of the two levels.

Fig 10. FL1.5 single limb manometer


5.3 Precision manometers Employing the same fundamental principles as the industrial manometers, this range of precision portable manometers are built into complete test sets. They incorporate one or two adjustable-range single-limb manometers providing wide choice of ranges from 0-125 Pa to 0-5000 Pa. Each manometer has a reservoir tank with a built-in metal bellows system which allows fine settings of the fluid level without changing the calibration. Once set up the instrument panel is accurately leveled with a three point rapid leveling system using a precision compound built-in spirit level. The close fitting of the scale to the glass tube minimizes parallax and the choice of manometer fluid ensures a crisp meniscus for accurate reading. Each instrument is individually calibrated and comes complete with a pitot static tube, connecting flexible tube, spare fluid and a manometer balancing valve which isolates the pressure signal to allow zero checking without disconnecting the pressure lines. Other accessories are also included as appropriate to each kit. 5.4 Dial gauges Dial pressure gauges are primarily employed for reading high pressures. At very low pressures they tend to

exhibit unacceptable hysteresis errors unless they are very high quality instruments. Due to short scale length the resolution is not generally suitable for other than static pressure measurements. 5.5 Pressure transducers As an alternative to the fundamental liquid-filled portable manometer, electronic pressure transducer based instruments are available for laboratory or site use. These eliminate the use of fluids and, although not fundamental, exhibit an acceptable level of accuracy ideal for normal ventilating and related air movement measurement. In the Airflow Instruments PVM610 and PVM620 a protected precision diaphragm moving between fixed electrodes causes capacitance changes proportional to a differential pressure. Used with a Pitot Static tube (at standard temperature and pressure), the instruments can read velocity directly. A pressure transducer-based instrument allows continuous monitoring using a recorder or input to electronic storage or control equipment, and can be used in conjunction with other pressure sensing devices such as the Wilson Flow Grid.

Fig 11. Precision portable manometer set



5.6 Maintenance and calibration If instruments in regular use are to retain their designed accuracy, they should be regularly serviced. It is difficult to give firm guidance due to the differing amount of use to which instruments are put and the varying conditions in which they operate. As a guide, instruments with typical heating and ventilating use should be serviced and have the calibration checked once a year, and also immediately after any abnormal use or abuse such as dropping. With manometers it is critical to accuracy that the correct manometer fluid is used. Alternative fluids, even of the same relative density, many not be compatible with the instrument or have the necessary fluidic characteristics. Precision instruments need specialist equipment to check the calibration. Airflow Instruments produce an open jet wind tunnel for use by organizations which find it economic to do their own calibration of anemometers.

Fig 12. PVM620 Micromanometer with Pitot tube



6 On Site
6.1. Flow in ducts The most commonly used method of accurately establishing the air flow rate in a duct is by traversing the duct with a pitot static tube connected to a sensitive pressure transducer such as an inclined manometer or electronic pressure transducer. A conveniently accessible part of the duct should be selected, preferably where there are straight parallelsided sections upstream and downstream of not less than six duct diameters or widths each. Holes should be drilled in the duct of a sufficient size to give a free fit to the pitot static tube. Velocity readings are required at the prescribed points as shown in figs 13 and 14. It is convenient to set the marker clops on the pitot static tube to the insertion depth to ensure conformity with the traversing pattern. It is obviously desirable that the flow rate is held steady for the duration of the tests. The velocity pressure readings are noted, the square root taken and the resulting figures averaged. However if no single velocity pressure reading is more than twice any other, a simple average of velocity pressures is unlikely to introduce an error of more than 1 or 2%. Where continuous monitoring is necessary an Airflow Instruments Wilson Flow Grid will give a pressure signal proportional to the square of the velocity. This output can be connected either to a sensitive manometer for visual indication or an electronic pressure transducer where an electrical signal as well as a visual display is needed. Fig 13. Measuring points for circular ducts. Log linear rule for traverse points on 3 diameters. Readings on two diameters may be used where access is limited.

Fig 14. Measuring points in rectangular ducts. Log Tchebycheff rule. www.airflowinstruments.co.uk 12

6.2 Flow rate in large airways In large airways, (where an operator can stand up without adversely restricting the flow rate), it is convenient to carry out a traverse to the same pattern as suggested for a pitot static tube but using an anemometer. Provided the anemometer head is held about 1.5 metres upstream of the operator, no large errors are to be expected. 6.3 Flow at grilles The air emerging from a typical grille is likely to have a steeply varying velocity profile. Any single point reading is not likely to be very meaningful. Smoke tests have shown that around the edges secondary air is entrained, while at some points, depending upon the approach flow, some of the air can even be flowing back into the grille. If there is access and a reasonable length of duct, measuring the flow rate by pitot static tube, thermal anemometer traverse method or by placing a flow grid in the duct leading to the grille is preferable to measuring at the grille. Where measurement at the grille is the only option it is desirable to construct a simple duct, which covers the area of the grille. It can be parallel-sided, but is preferably tapered to an area equal to the free area of the grille and a length of two diameters (or diagonals) of the grille. An anemometer traverse across the end of this hood will reduce the errors due to secondary and recirculating air. Calibrated hoods are available in which the anemometer head is fixed in the outlet and these will give consistent results provided the pressure drop created by the hood does not significantly affect the volume flow. Many manufacturers of grilles publish the characteristics of their products in great detail and by measuring the

pressure drop across the terminal device it is possible to estimate volume flow provided the approach conditions are reasonable. In some situations the static holes of a small pitot static tube can be used to provide a pressure signal from the rear of the grille. 6.4 Flow from ceiling diffusers As with grilles it is preferable to measure the air flow rate before it reaches the diffuser, using a pitot static tube or thermal anemometer traverse or from an installed flow grid. Some manufacturers provide factors relating velocity at a given point on the diffuser to volume flow rate. This velocity can be conveniently measured using a handheld thermal anemometer. Steep velocity profiles occur between the louvers of diffusers and care must be taken in accurate positioning of probes if this technique is employed. Large hoods are available which engulf the diffuser and funnel the air down to a small exit where the velocity is read with a calibrated anemometer. A diffusers function is to distribute air with a specified coverage and velocity. If the performance specification is in this form, then reading the velocity at a measures point in space with a vane anemometer or thermal anemometer may suffice. If a vane anemometer is employed then care must be taken to face the anemometer head into the air stream for maximum reading. A direct reading instrument will be advantageous in this situation. The flow pattern from a diffuser may not be symmetrical and largely depends on the design of the supply ducting. It is therefore desirable to take sufficient readings around the unit to establish the pattern.



6.5 Flow from slot diffusers Slot diffusers can be treated in a similar way to grilles and a small head anemometer or thermal anemometer used to measure the slot velocities. A shallow hood can improve the flow pattern and increase accuracy. 6.6 Fan performance This short booklet can only highlight the basic methods of fan testing. The primary places where the air flow rate from a fan can be measured are at the inlet to the approach duct, in the duct to the fan inlet, or at a point in the outlet duct where the flow pattern has stabilized. If a standard conical inlet is fitted, accurate measurements of volume flow rate are possible by taking pressure tappings. Pitot traverses as previously described are employed for occasional testing. Where a continuous signal is required the Airflow Instruments Wilson Flow Grid is recommended. 6.7 Static pressure Duct static pressure can be taken from the static connections on a pitot static tube. Alternatively static connections can be made on the duct wall. It is critical to the accuracy of the reading that the face of the duct in the vicinity of the hole is smooth and free from projections. Any projection is likely to cause a velocity pressure component to be included with the static pressure reading, creating inaccuracy. 6.8 Balancing systems Any system will have a designed performance and the total air flow rate and its distribution to the various terminals will be specified. Having established that the total flow rate from the fan is sufficient to meet the total requirement, it is necessary to balance the system by means of damper or other adjustments to give the correct flow at each terminal. Provided that the total flow rate can be established after making any adjustment to the system it is only necessary to take comparative measurements at the terminals, the absolute value not being critical. This is sometimes referred to as balancing by percentage. To this end, grilles can be set straight and simple anemometer traverses made at a common distance from the grille face. For grilles of the same design and size it is only necessary to compare average face velocities. 6.9 Checking for leakage Air performance available at the fan can be wasted due to leaks in the system. This is particularly true of high velocity systems. Smoke producing phials, tablets or canisters are available for feeding smoke into a system. These will produce a tell-tale escape of smoke where there are any leaks. The smoke test should be carried out after a section of the system has been selected, sealed off and visually inspected. Some smoke systems produce sticky deposits, which can damage instrumentation and this should be considered before carrying out a test.

Many systems will have a leakage performance requirement specified as a maximum leakage flow rate at a specified pressure. Airflow Instruments have available a comprehensive piece of equipment, the High Velocity Leakage Tester (HVLT), which not only pressurizes the system but measures and indicates the volume of the leakage. For low velocity systems the Low Velocity Leakage Tester (LVLT) is available. 6.10 Draughts High velocity currents of air can create discomfort in rooms. As a general recommendation air velocities should not normally exceed 0.25 m/s. Our thermal anemometer range is suitable for searching out and measuring the velocity of draughts. If the volume of flow from a draught is required then some form of temporary frame should be constructed around the source of the flow and a velocity profile established. Knowing the area a volume flow can be calculated in a similar way to that used in determining the flow from grilles and registers. 6.11 Accessories In addition to air velocity, volume and pressure it is sometimes necessary to check other parameters. The following is a list of useful accessories additional to the instruments already mentioned, and commonly employed in ventilating test work. Item Steel tape measure Calculator Sealing tape Use Measuring duct and terminal sizes Volume flow and other calculations Sealing systems temporarily, closing test holes Connecting pitot static tubes to manometers Checking fan motor Checking fan speed Making static pressure tappings in ducts Recording test results

Flexible coloured tube Volts, amps, watts meter Tachometer Duct connectors Notebook or pre-printed Test sheets



7 Glossary of Terms
Air A gas comprising the following constituents (when dry): 78.09% nitrogen 20.95% oxygen 0.93% argon 0.03% carbon dioxide Air density The ratio of the mass of a given amount of air to the 3 3 volume which this amount occupies (ie lb/ft or kg/m ). Secondary air Room air entrained and set in motion by air discharge from a grille. Anemometer An instrument used for the measurement of air velocity. Hot wire anemometer This has a probe consisting of a very fine short length of wire (or small thermistor bead) attached to the end of a supporting tube. The wire is heated electrically, and measurements are made of the heat dissipated by the wire. The rate of heat dissipation is directly related to the velocity of the air passing the wire. Rotating vane anemometer The consists of a disc of angled vanes attached to a rotating spindle and is usually mounted within a protective ring and supporting bracket. The speed at which the vane assembly rotates is a measure of the air velocity acting upon it. This speed may be sensed either electronically or by a counter mechanism. Tethered vane anemometer This is similar to the rotating vane anemometer in that the air exerts a force on the vane assembly. The rotation is resisted by a hair spring. The wind velocity is measured by the angle through which the spring is compressed at equilibrium. Attenuators Devices for reducing the amplitude of a source of energy. Often used in a noise control device to reduce unwanted sounds. Bernoullis theorem This says that the total energy per unit mass along any one stream line in a moving fluid is constant, and that the states in which that energy exists (pressure, kinetic or potential) are related and convertible. Boundary layer The region close to a surface in which the air velocity varies from zero at the surface up to its full value (in the main stream). Outside the boundary layer the fluid moves at the full velocity, and may be considered in practice to be unaffected by the reduction of velocity close to the surface. Coanda effect The tendency for an airstream under some circumstances to attach itself to and follow the shape of a surface. This can occur even for extremely convex curvatures. Consuming The act of using up available resources, energy, etc. Damper A device used to control the volume of air passing through a confined cross section by varying the crosssectional area. Diffuser An outlet device discharging supply air in a direction radially to the axis of entry. Dynamic loss The energy lost when an airstream traveling at a known velocity is forced to make a sudden change in direction or velocity. Energy Potential energy The energy of a fluid or body due to its position (or height). Kinetic energy This energy which a fluid or body possesses by virtue of its motion. Fan A rotary bladed machine, which continuously supplies energy to the air or gas passing through it. There are three main components to a fan: the impeller (sometimes referred to as the wheel or rotor), the means of driving it, and the casing. Grille A system of fixed or adjustable vanes covering an opening through which air is discharged. Return grille A grille covering an opening through which air is withdrawn from the conditioned space. Flow Laminar flow With this kind of flow, the particles of the fluid move entirely in straight lines even though the velocities of adjacent particles are not necessarily the same. Turbulent flow With this type of flow, the paths of the individual fluid particles are not straight but sinuous, intertwining and crossing each other in a disorderly manner so that a thorough mixing of the fluid takes place. Head A term used in fluid mechanics to denote the energy per unit weight of a fluid. This is expressed in terms of the vertical height of a fluid column. Inlet device A shaped air intake with pressure tappings that can be calibrated and used to measure air flow rate (e.g. bellmouthed or conical inlets). 15


Log Tchebycheff Rule A method of specifying pitot traverse positions and the number of readings required to obtain a mean velocity for rectangular or circular sectioned ducts. (Refer to BS848: Part 1: 1980). Meniscus The shape a liquid surface takes up when confined in a small bore tube. Orifice plate This consists of a plate normal to the duct with an aperture in it, through which the fluid passes. The thickness of the plate is small in comparison with its other dimensions. The flow rate is related to the pressure difference across the plate measurement at stipulated tapping points. Pitch The vertical angle an instrument makes to the axis of flow. Pitot tube Any open-ended tube facing directly into the air flow. The other end of the tube may be connected to a manometer to enable the total pressure of the air flow to be measured. Pitot-static tube A combination of a pitot tube surrounded by a second tube for static pressure measurement. The access of the two concentric tubes faces directly into the air flow and measures the total pressure. The outer tube is open to the air flow only through small static orifices perpendicular to the direction of air flow, and enables the static pressure to be measured. Pressure Air pressure The force per unit area imposed on the surface of a solid body by gaseous air. Absolute pressure Pressure relative to a perfect vacuum. Barometric pressure The local ambient air pressure. Differential pressure The difference between pressures measured at two points or levels in a system. Static pressure The difference between the absolute pressure at a point in an air stream or a pressurized chamber and the absolute pressure at ambient temperature. This is positive when the pressure at that point is above ambient pressure, and negative when below. It acts equally in all directions and is independent of velocity.

Velocity pressure The increase in pressure produced by bringing a moving airstream to rest (as measured by a pitot static tube). It is equal to the product of air density and the square of the velocity divided by 2, and is sometimes known as the velocity head or dynamic pressure. Register A grille equipped with a damper control valve. Relative humidity The relative humidity of an air/water vapour mixture is the ratio of the vapour pressure existing to the saturated vapour pressure for the same dry-bulb temperature. Reynolds number A non-dimensional number consisting of the product of velocity, density and length (duct diameter, blade length, etc.) divided by the dynamic viscosity of the air stream. The behaviour of air is varied by changes to these parameters and may be predicted by knowledge of the number. Sampling The process of taking a number of sample measurements so that a statistical average may be calculate. Standard conditions (STP) The standard temperature and pressure used to define 3 O STANDARD AIR, which has a density of 1.2 kg/m (16 C and 1000 mbar at 55% RH). Straightener A device placed in a duct to straighten a swirling spiral flow pattern. It is important to install a straightener upstream of a measuring point when such a flow pattern is suspected. Refer to BS 848: Part 1: 1980. Terminal One outlet of a ductwork system. Generally the entrance from which air is supplied to a room and the point at which a grille is fixed. Velocity The speed and direction at which an airstream passes a reference point. Usually the direction is implicit, e.g. velocity in a duct or out of a jet. Otherwise the direction should be stated, e.g. 5 knots NNW. Venturi A venturi is used as a means of metering fluid flow, and consists of a combination of converging and diverging tapers, connected by a short straight pipe known as the throat. The flow rate is related to the pressure difference between tappings at the throat and in the upstream pipe. Yaw The horizontal angle an instrument makes to the axis of flow.



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