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Apologies for the cross-post, however I wanted to ask this question from 2 angles and I feel both communities may benefit from the discussion (if I can spark one).

A common reality I've observed with "real-world" hydronic systems is that system coils and baseboard/radiator loops fall into a state coined wild coils. Rather than modulating flow to maintain a measured supply air or room temperature setpoint, flow is uncontrolled. A heating or reheat coil for example will end up dumping heat at all times the associated circulation loop is active, independent of its associated system's fan operation, cooling coil activity, or thermostat signals requesting more/less heating. Occupants in response to wild coils, when they cay, will end up using windows, propping open doorways, plugging in local space heaters / circ fans, and generally suffering in terms of comfort. In just about every case, this scenario presents a win-win in terms of improved occupant comfort potential in parallel with energy savings potential for whoever is paying the bills.

Causes for this situation I've encountered more than once include:

* Manual Control valves left in an open state, with dusty cobwebs suggesting their presence is unknown to the occupants/building operators
* Automated valves (electric or pneumatic) which have become mechanically stuck in an open, or partially open position
* Automated valves (electric or pneumatic) which are otherwise busted due to upstream pneumatic line/system issues or mechanical failures of the moving parts at the valve
* A valve was never designed and/or installed and/or wired up for control in the first place

For all of this however, I have always struggled in approximating the energy and comfort impacts of "wild" coils in my building energy simulations. Quantifying this impact with some degree of confidence is difficult, but desirable in cases where I am calibrating to existing utility bills (read: always) and/or asserting the utility savings and comfort improvement impact for fixing/addressing such situations.

For the [bldg-sim] family: Are there any 3rd party tools, models, or other energy simulation platforms with explicit options for evaluating the comfort and energy impacts of wild coil situations? Is there any research I could be pointed towards exploring this topic?

For the [eQuest-users] crowd: Can anyone share a best practice or recommendation for simulating this sort of problem-state within a doe2/eQuest model? As far as I know, the native input options are essentially limited to a pair of "working" coil modulation states: TWO-WAY and THREE-WAY. Here's an example doe2 reference entry, with language that repeats a couple times over for different scenarios:
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I personally have taken different approaches, with none being particularly satisfactory. These have included introducing process loads onto the loops concurrently with "free" internal energy source definitions to get those losses dumped into the spaces experiencing discomfort. I have also played with artificially bumping the thermostat schedules around to reflect measured, uncomfortable temperature states...

Any solutions/experiences/shared-commiseration would be very welcome!


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Nick Caton, P.E., BEMP
Senior Energy Engineer
Regional Energy Engineering Manager
Energy and Sustainability Services
Energy Performance Contracting
913 . 564 . 6361
785 . 410 . 3317
913 . 564 . 6380
nicholas.caton at
15200 Santa Fe Trail Drive
Suite 204
Lenexa, KS 66219
United States
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