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Economizer Questions

What is an economizer?

An economizer is a device used mainly to decrease the energy utilization levels or in order to perform other useful functions such as preheating a fluid. Economizers are referred to as heat exchangers as well. They are used in heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in order to improve the indoor air quality.

Listed below are a few questions answered by the Experts on economizer.

Why is an economizer needed, and are they necessary and expensive to purchase and install?

As per Code, commercial buildings should allow 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of fresh air circulated per person. In order to achieve this stipulation, an economizer which is an outdoor air hood, permanently set at a given setting, is used. It will automatically open and close based on the carbon dioxide levels within the building. The National Code does not mandate the installation of an economizer but the local code may. The local inspector has the authority to enforce the use of an economizer if he/she deems necessary. In order to get more clarity on the reason for the economizer, you could contact the Chief Inspector or Chief Building official. Economizers will most likely be expensive to purchase as well as install.

Why is the economizer on my Lennox GCS 16 rooftop unit not shutting off to allow the condenser to come on despite adjusting the settings of the economizer?

It should be noted if you eradicate the economizer you could be endangering the fresh air allowance needed for the building. If you are looking at eliminating or turning off the economizer you would need a jumper plug. The jumper plug hooks to the end of the harness where the economizer plugs into the economizer control. It is usually a 15 pin Molex connector with three jumpers which jumps red to red, yellow to yellow and blue to blue as per the diagram directly below the triangle with a 3 on it, found on page 37 of the manual. The link for the manual is as below. http://www.cozyparts.com/Lennox-Parts/forum/Lennox_service_manual/gas-electric_electric-electric_package/GCS16_CHA16_15_thr_20_tons_6_1_2005.pdf

My Kenmore gas water heater’s indicator light shows an error as follows "pressure circuit remains open longer than 5 seconds after the blower is energized. Blower may run continuously in this condition." Can I reset to get the economizer to work?

Based on the error mentioned by you, the pressure switch is signaling the unit not to fire. To reset the system you could unplug the unit from the power and this should reset the computer. However resetting the system will not resolve the problem as you may have a failing blower or failed pressure switch. In order to diagnose why the pressure switch is not closing, you require specialized tools such as a manometer and a volt meter. The most common problem to occur would be insufficient air movement due to dust collection on the blower intake. To confirm if this is the issue the pressure switch tubing should be checked for cracks or blockages. The blower inlet should also be checked for dust and lint buildup. You could use a vacuum here. After you clean, the pressure switch should close and the error will disappear allowing the system to function again.

My 25,000 square feet Amusement Park has three Trane roof top economizers. The building has two large double doors and employee side doors which are constantly being opened allowing fresh air to circulate. How many of the three should remain in fan mode?

Your premises is a commercial undertaking and though your intention may be to save on expenses, you are required to allow fresh air circulate during maximum occupancy. A constant fan mode maybe required to fulfill code requirements for fresh air. Economizers are required to be set at a percentage of outdoor air and generally the rule is to provide a minimum of 10% economizer opening at all times. The economizers could be shut down when the place is not occupied. However if the park is open, fresh air must be present which implies operating the economizers on constant fan mode. Opening and closing of doors by customers or staff when your park is open does not qualify the requirement of fresh air. Since this is a large space, the fan should operate during business hours.

Economizers are required for energy saving purposes especially in commercial set ups. Though the use of economizers is not mandatory, it is useful to provide fresh air as well as remain within the guidelines of the civic building specifications. Some local jurisdictions may enforce the use of economizers while others may not. These devices are complicated and the issues are tricky to resolve or repair without assistance. Therefore to understand better, insights and information from Experts will be helpful and useful to tackle the problem immediately and effectively.
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