Chilled Beams: saving space, saving energy

Chilled beams are among the recent energy-saving innovations making their way to the U.S. market. Chilled beam technology, which involves locating a low-temperature radiator at ceiling level to cool the rising warm air, has been utilized in Europe and Australia for more than a decade.

Once cooled, the air slowly descends into the occupied zone, providing adequate cooling with minimal air movement and fan power, while providing an unobstructed radiant heat sink above the occupied zone.

Chilled beams have emerged in the United States as an attractive alternative to variable air volume (VAV) systems and have been proven to be effective in conditioning both new and existing buildings. Their flexibility, ease of installation and maintenance, and energy efficiency present a cost effective alternative to more conventional cooling systems.

Types of Chilled Beams
  • Chilled beams can be classified into three different categories:
  • Passive Chilled Beams
  • Active Chilled Beams
  • Multi-Service Chilled Beams
The distinguishing characteristic of each design is the type of air flow utilized and the means by which fresh air is provided to the space.

Common to all types of chilled beams is the radiator element, which uses circulation of chilled water as the source of radiant cooling. Chilled beam technology is most applicable to interior environments where heat gain in the space – solar radiation, people, or equipment heat – is the primary factor for determining air flow quantities.