Lightning Mechanical provides total HVAC system analysis for residential, commercial, and industrial air conditioning systems. We offer a thorough assessment of your whole system, including accurate sizing of equipment and components, balance analysis, duct design/systems design, blower door testing, building envelope diagnosis, and materials review.
Apparent problems with excessive moisture don't always come from sub-par mechanical ventilation, just as oil and coolant temperatures aren't the only things to suffer from heat pump inefficiencies. We look at every component of your HVAC systems to identify suitable repair methods.
What is a Total System Analysis?
Total system analysis is an approach to test-based investigation that includes the entire HVAC system from the intake to output and all the ductwork in between – using a "control point" to monitor each zone.
Lightning Mechanical's Total System Analysis service is essential for: Improved indoor air quality and health (eliminating temperature stratification, reducing runtimes, minimizing infiltration, etc.)
- Improved comfort (by targeting cooling to where it is needed with the least amount of ductwork)
- Increased energy savings
- Improved equipment life (by proper sizing)
- Greater system reliability (by identifying and eliminating over-stress)
What are the Types of System Analysis?
1. Ductwork Diagnostics
Ductwork diagnostics identify and locate leaks and pressure imbalances in the system. We perform a thorough visual and pressure testing (using an electronic manometer and blower door) to determine where your ductwork is leaking, the extent of those leaks, and where they are located. Heat pumps and natural ventilation are thermally unsteady processes, HVAC systems that use them need to be airtight (Save for inlet and outlet) the whole way through. Even ductwork assisted by mechanical ventilation is prone to inefficiencies if the ducts don't hold air.
2. Temperature Distribution Analysis
A temperature distribution analysis is a specific type of load calculation that solves for airflow or temperature in a duct system. It is used to determine the CFMs (Cubic Feet Minutes) and temperatures at minor points such as supply diffusers and return grills across an entire system.
3. Airflow Distribution Analysis
Airflow distribution analysis is a measurement of the system's airflow. With these measurements, we can document where your system is under-performing, provide a blower door test to pinpoint areas of leakage and pressure imbalances, and add insulation or implement flow restrictions where necessary.
These three types of testing and analysis are designed to give technicians a view of the whole system. Doctors call this treating the whole patient. It means you can't just treat one symptom without treating the patient as a whole. A Total System Analysis is like that – it treats the entire system and aims to fix whatever problems we find simultaneously.
Total System Analysis vs. Individual Test Results
Most HVAC companies only offer individual test results – not total system analysis:
- Most duct diagnostic companies only test for pressure imbalances, not leaks
- Most blower door companies only test for air leakage, not imbalance
- Most insulation contractors only offer R-value tests, not full airflow measurements
It's all well and good to collect vast amounts of data, but what use is it if you don't follow up on it with actionable insights.
Lightning Mechanical tests and analyzes your system for proper sizing, infiltration/exfiltration, airflow distribution, duct leakage, building pressure relationships, and other vital parameters. Based on these findings, we provide a final report with specific recommendations that will improve the performance of your HVAC system.
Lightning Mechanical provides analytical services such as:
- Comprehensive A/C Design, Layout, and Sizing
- Duct sizing using industry-standards software with the most accurate airflow data available for use in our total simulation model of your air conditioning.
- Simulation of airflow, pressure, temperatures, and humidity throughout your air conditioning.
HVAC System Modeling
Computer-aided HVAC System Modeling has been around since the 1960s; modern modeling tools are extremely powerful, accurate, and fast. These tools allow us to visualize airflow patterns in your system, quantify the energy savings of potential HVAC system improvements, help find problem areas in complex air conditioning systems and design complex A/C systems for new construction.
Lightning Mechanical uses industry-leading modeling software to accurately map airflow, pressure, temperatures, and humidity throughout your air conditioning system.
This service takes the guesswork out of duct sizing and equipment selection by providing accurate airflow data at specific points within your HVAC system. The data is then used in our total HVAC system analysis to determine the additional airflow needed to reduce pressure imbalances, locate duct leaks, and identify low or high airflow areas.
System analysis testing provides us with an accurate description of your current air conditioning; system modeling allows us to use that description to test and develop fixes or alternative HVAC solutions
We create virtual replicas of your components and start crunching the numbers. We can test out several modeling builds in rapid succession because we know exactly what's in your system and how well it's doing.
It's a working process, and the first iteration of a build is never the right one. But because we can model different combustion machines, the rate at which vents replenish oxygen, carbon dioxide flow patterns, and oil and cooling systems, we can solve without going through multiple test build installations.
This technology is used in designing air conditioning systems for most homes and buildings. The ability to break down systems into their basic building blocks and switch out individual components on the fly has led to dramatic efficiency gains for HVAC systems all over the world.
Total System Analysis in Forensic Engineering
A forensic engineer is called upon to determine the cause or origin of damage in a situation that has resulted in loss, injury, or death.
Lightning Mechanical investigates the interactions between HVAC systems and building occupants with regard to heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. We look for design flaws in your system or areas where occupant behavior may have influenced the system performance. In these cases, we provide a detailed account of our investigation and serve as an expert witness in building code hearings before inspections boards, builders' licensing boards, and other industry groups as well as courts of law.
Our case studies illustrate the benefits of using our Total System Analysis service
In one case, a new home construction went up in flames from faulty electrical work that created unsafe conditions for occupants and firefighters alike. Fortunately, all occupants escaped without injury, but there was significant structural damage to the building.
Upon investigation, it became clear the building's HVAC system was a major factor in the spread of fire from one section of the home to another. The second floor, where the occupants were sleeping at the time of the alarm, received little or no cooling airflow as a result of an extremely under-sized duct system.
The Total System Analysis allowed us to provide a detailed breakdown of our findings through CAD drawings and animations.
In another instance, we revealed a serious design flaw in a building's HVAC system that could have resulted in injury had it been allowed to remain operational.
The building, in this case, a retirement home, had a central heating and cooling system consisting of a large furnace unit and radiators throughout the facility.
Through the use of our thermal modeling software, we discovered that the baseboard radiators were heated to such high temperatures they could cause severe burns when touched by occupants or caregivers. Meanwhile, other rooms failed to achieve the desired comfort level because of inadequacies in the heating system.
We provided a comprehensive report on our findings, including an animated rendering of the thermal model showing how occupants moved throughout different areas of the building to achieve their ideal indoor climate. The analysis also included recommendations for safety improvements that would reduce occupant discomfort due to overheating while preventing injury from burns.
In both these cases, a complete understanding of the system and its function allowed us to model it so we could pick out structural deficiencies in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks.
Contact Us Today
Call us today to schedule your appointment with one of our professional engineers, who will examine the components of your system and build you a model that will allow you to view the details of your project in 3D. We use state-of-the-art software so you can see for yourself what corrections need to be made before any construction begins. With our help, you can ensure that your system provides maximum efficiency and comfort for years to come.