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What Is a Fan Coil Unit?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2014
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The fan coil unit consists of a cooling or heating coil. Such units are typically a part of heating and air conditioning systems. The fan coil unit may be used in all sorts of capacities.

The fan cooling unit is not part of the air conditioning or heating unit itself and there is no required connection to any ductwork within a structure. Instead, the fan coil unit generally is a stand alone device installed to adjust temperatures in its location. Often, the device is controlled by a thermostat that tells it when to come on and shut off.

There are some units that still operate by a manual switch. This requires the user to shut it on and off. These types of devices are used in the heating and cooling of all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, and industrial facilities.

Fan coil units may be more cost efficient than their air handling unit counterparts for a number of reasons. First, they are more financially feasible given that they need no ductwork installed to make them operational. They can also be installed in many different ways, such as horizontally using a ceiling mount or vertically using a floor mount.

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There is one major drawback to this type of unit. Unlike central air and heating units where the fan is outside the home or place of business and cannot be seen or heard, these units can be loud because it is possible to hear the fan running. This noise occurs because the fan for the unit is sharing the same space and is not outside the building.

Fan coil units operate in the same sense as larger air conditioning and heating units through the process of heat transfer. When heating is necessary, hot water moves into a coil where heat is then collected and pushed into the air. When cooling is necessary, the same process occurs but instead of circulating hot water into the coil, cold air is used instead.

There are two main types of units: two pipe units and four pipe units. A two pipe unit has one supply pipe and one pipe for return. The former is used to supply the hot or cold water for the heat transfer, depending on what the fan coil unit is being used for.

The fan coil unit in its four pipe model has two pipes for supply and two for return. This type of unit is the most commonly used, especially in larger structures where spaces must be heated and or cooled simultaneously. The two supply pipes allow for the entry of both hot and cold water into the unit to allow this process to occur.

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