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What is a Custom Air Handling Unit?

Custom Air Handling Unit
Custom Air Handling Unit

In the latest episode of our podcast, we delved into the intricate world of custom air handling units (AHUs), a topic that remains challenging to define succinctly.

To shed light on this subject, Joe Naccarello with Nortek Air Solutions provided an insightful overview, outlining what sets custom AHUs apart from their standard counterparts.

As Joe explained, custom AHUs are distinguished by four key criteria: performance, dimensions, material choices, and life expectancy. Each element is crucial in tailoring the AHU to meet specific needs beyond what off-the-shelf units can offer.

Each element is crucial in tailoring the AHU to meet specific needs beyond what off-the-shelf units can offer.

Performance is the cornerstone of a custom AHU, characterized by its ability to operate efficiently under high static pressures with minimal leakage. These units are designed to exceed standard operating pressures, ensuring durability and reliability even in the most demanding conditions. Whether achieving specific CFM and static pressure requirements, meeting stringent acoustical standards for noise-sensitive environments, or complying with specialized certifications like seismic or hurricane ratings, custom AHUs are engineered to deliver exceptional performance.

Dimensions of custom AHUs can vary significantly, ranging from extremely compact to exceptionally large configurations capable of handling over 100,000 CFM. Their design flexibility allows for complex shapes and layouts, including multiple tunnels, L-shaped, U-shaped, and even double or triple-stacked configurations, tailored to the spatial constraints and requirements of the installation site.

When it comes to material choices, custom AHUs offer a wide array of options to cater to the specific conditions of their intended application. From lightweight aluminum to stainless steel for corrosion resistance, the materials are selected based on the end user's needs, ensuring longevity and optimal environmental performance.

Lastly, custom AHUs' life expectancy significantly surpasses that of standard units. Designed with durability in mind, these custom solutions are expected to last twice as long as commercial-grade units, offering a life span of 20 to 30 years. This extended durability not only meets the customer's specific needs but also results in a lower total cost of ownership.

Custom AHUs can be further categorized into semi-custom, custom, and true or high-end custom. 

Semi-custom units incorporate a few of the criteria above and serve as an entry point into custom solutions.

Custom AHUs, on the other hand, embody several or many of these distinguishing features, such as double-wide and double-stacked configurations with specialized requirements.

True or high-end custom units are designed for unique applications involving extreme temperatures, nuclear ratings, or other special requirements beyond standard specifications, including unique electrical needs or advanced seismic certifications.

In conclusion, custom AHUs represent a pinnacle of engineering designed to meet the most exacting air handling requirements. By carefully considering performance, dimensions, materials, and life expectancy, these units are meticulously crafted to provide tailored solutions that enhance efficiency, reliability, and overall value for the end user.

You can watch the full podcast episode here:

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