The How To Of Heat Load Testing

With the increasing number of heat dense environments, such as data centres and specialist manufacturing, comes the need for HVAC systems to prove they can handle the heat load well before, the usually expensive, equipment is installed.

Brad Sweeny, Director, Active Air Rentals, explains what heat load testing is, how it is done and how it ensures both compliance and risk mitigation for facilities managers and C-level executives alike.

Why Is Heat Load Testing Required

Heat density in data centres and other heat generating environments is on the rise globally. With this increase comes the need for precision cooling via heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Brad explains, “Purpose-built facilities are designed from the outset for specific heat loads but, more often than not, existing buildings are converted and the HVAC system is retrofitted to account for vast heat load increase.”

‘Whether new build or retrofit the HVAC system must be tested before the servers or other heat generating equipment in installed. That’s where heat load testing comes in.’

What Is Heat Load Testing

Heat load testing does exactly as its name suggests – an artificial heat load is created to test if the HVAC system can handle it.

‘The last thing a CIO or facility manager wants is for highly specialised, heat sensitive equipment to be installed only to find that they can’t operate because their HVAC system doesn’t work effectively or efficiently.’ Notes Brad.

‘Because of this, the architect or construction consultant usually specifies in their tender documents that a heat load test must be done before sign off.’

The Heat Load Testing Process

With compliance and business risk mitigation in mind, heat load testing specialists are engaged.

The maximum heat load is specified in kilowatts by the architect or construction consultant. Based on this number the heat load specialist will define how many electric fan forced heaters are required to reach the specified maximum.

The heaters are strategically placed in the room and then turned on.

This sounds deceptively simple, but there are three main factors to consider.  Brad explains,

‘Firstly, the heaters are industrial heaters. They’re not something you can get at your local department store! They are designed to work in high temperatures and for extended periods, so leaving them to run overnight does not pose any risks. The heaters are also fitted with appropriate safety devices that both meet Australian safety standards and ensure plug and play usability.

Secondly, if there is anything unusual about the set up, such as an odd room shape or extreme heat output differences within the environment, then this also needs to be accounted for.

Thirdly, as anyone who has turned on too many appliances at once knows, too much power draw causes circuit board blowouts. To avoid entire building black outs, heat load testing experts have specialist equipment and expertise to power numerous heaters at once without causing problems.’

If mains power isn’t available then temporary power generators are also required.

Once the heaters are in place they are monitored and adjusted to meet the specified heat load.

The HVAC system can then be tested at varying loads, over nominated time periods regardless of the ambient condition.

Installs range anywhere from four days to three weeks.

About Active Air Rentals

Active Air Rentals is Australia’s all round cooling, heating and power rental company. Specialising in heat load testing, data centre cooling, hire and rental of temporary air conditioning, power generation, climate control and refrigeration equipment.

Founded in 1972 by Managing Director, Jim Sweeny, Active Air Rentals has grown from humble beginnings as air conditioner installers and sheet metal manufacturers, to an all round national cooling, heating and power rental company.

Today we are a multi-faceted business with four branches, two distribution centers and employing over forty permanent staff across Australia.

Active Air Rentals is renowned for providing outstanding service, excellent customer relationships and addressing difficult, unusual or specialised projects.

Active Air Rentals has over 40 years experience installing temporary air conditioning into every conceivable location.  From crane towers to coal mines, from war ships to entire inner city villages, from emergency civil defence camps to enormous events such as the Australian Open and thousands of offices and server rooms along the way. 

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