Energy efficiency

Chillin’ with Chilled Beam Systems


What is a chilled beam?

Chilled beam just sounds interesting, rolls off the tongue with much more panache than VAV system. VAV or “Variable Air Volume” just sounds confusing. But chilled beam, that is fun to say, kind of reminds you of a Coke commercial with the polar bear or a good Dairy Queen ad: Chilled beam, ahh, it must be a system that can really make you chill.

Or will it?When working properly it will. But, if the system isn’t controlled correctly, sensors

aren’t calibrated accurately or, worse yet, a proper sequence of operation isn’t programmed; then the glamorous sounding chilled beam system becomes a building owner or building engineers’ worst nightmare.

Recently designers have shifted away from VAV, with some calling them antiquated and inefficient. Chilled Beam, VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow – Think Mitsubishi), or Geothermal have received the attention of most building designers.

Think of a VAV system as a Chevrolet, think of a chilled beam system as a European sports car. Most HVAC service providers handle VAV well. If a problem develops it’s investigated, the problem

Chilled1 is identified, parts are ordered, and the problem is resolved.

The scenario plays out much like taking your Chevy to a local auto mechanic when it needs serviced. Chilled beam systems are more sophisticated like the European sports car, each requiring specialized qualifications and skills to properly troubleshoot and diagnose. Chilled beam systems must operate within razor thin parameters to achieve both comfort and efficiency.

Is your chilled beam system chillin’? Or do you find it constantly operating with condensation alarms? Or worse yet — is it raining inside the space? Is the system sending DRY cool air to the conditioned zones or is your contractor just lowering the discharge temp in the hopes the problem will magically go away?

The service department at Smith-Boughan has spent the past several years working with “troubled” chilled beam systems.

We have field technicians who understand the complexity of how a chilled beam system is supposed to operate along with engineers who are experienced in the actual design.

If your chilled beam system isn’t “chillin” we can help. Contact us today at 419-991-8040 or email to



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