Old Church Air Conditioning Comforts
Imagine gathering together in the sanctuary of a beautiful, ornate, historical old church building. The architecture is breathtaking…and so is the air quality. It’s possible the luxury of air conditioning didn’t exist back when it was built. No, their chief concerns centered around a safe, attractive and heated place to worship…not cross-ventilation. Chances are, the windows didn’t even open, so they had to fling open the front and back doors during the summer heat. Thus the challenge…an old church may need a new air conditioning design.
Those parishioners back then were likely quite accustomed to heat and cold extremes every day. But today we go from an air conditioned home, to an air conditioned car, to an air conditioned place of work or business. Then comes Sunday, and we swelter along with our fellow worshipers.
Challenges in Old Church Air Conditioning
It’s not easy to make a change in some of these older churches. It can’t compare to installing a new system in your home or business. The list of considerations is long:
- What is the existing system, if any?
- What is the engineering design of the structure?
- How can a system be designed that won’t take away from the beauty of the architecture…inside and out?
- Will major structural design changes weaken the integrity of the building?
- Where and how to install ducting?
- Does the church funding permit an extensive installation?
- Can a system be implemented that will do good heating and cooling, without creating too much noise during quiet worship and prayer sessions?
New Solutions in Church HVAC
At Abel Heating and Cooling, we’ve had the opportunity to work with several churches – some with real challenges.
Recently we worked with the local Grace Apostolic Church. They have a congregation of about 100 – 200. The prior air conditioning consisted of two small window units, and they were very uncomfortable on muggy Minnesota summer days. We recommended they consider two Carrier Horizontal 4 Ton HP Under-Ceiling Heat Pump Systems. These included the following:
- Competitive Cost
- Fixed Speed Compressor
- WeatherArmor™ Cabinet
- Cool, Heat, Dry, Fan, Auto and Sleep Modes
- Dehumidification Mode
- Quiet Operation
- Wireless Remote Control
As the name suggests, these are completely duct free, take up little space, are attractive, and very silent. Better yet, they evenly distribute heat or cool air throughout the sanctuary.
This new equipment more than meets their needs without the high cost of installing an entire ducted system with significant cost savings. For example, in a church that seats from 150 – 250, a duct-free system like the Grace Apostolic Church now uses costs from approximately $15,000 to $25,000. To install a fully ducted system in a similar space could cost up to $100K.
The ductless systems also requires little or no permits and inspections.
We are happy we brought comfort to these parishioners!
Helping the New Hope Church
The New Hope Church became another challenge. It was built in 1976 and was heated by two Tjernland gas furnaces operating at 400,000 BTUs. The building also housed a Tjernland 1 million BTU multi-zone unit. These units operated at a 72% combustion efficiency as tested by the combustion analyzer.
Abel was one of the four qualified firms considered by the church administration. The ABEL approach involved removing the existing units piece by piece. (This was necessary as the as the building was actually been built around these units.) Then the challenge was to install new modular designed air handlers that arrived in sections. These needed to be disassembled by section and re-assembled in the appropriate existing mechanical rooms, completing the new units.
The new system offered remarkable energy efficiency and comfort, currently operating at over 90% AFUE efficiency. The cooling systems were also upgraded to modulating cooling and consist of two 25 Ton Carrier units and one 60 Ton Carrier unit. The modulating capacity of the new units work perfectly to maintain the temperature and humidity, whether the building is full or empty. The church cooling efficiency increased approximately 40%.
Other Energy Savers
Through computer-controlled economizers with the capability of bringing in cooler outside air, much of the cooling needs are accomplished for free. Now the church is using mechanical equipment cooling 30% less than before. This amounts to a huge energy cost savings, and also in maintenance savings and repair costs due to less run time on the equipment.
Another area of energy savings came with carbon dioxide sensors that enable fresh air from the outside to be monitored. This is one of the largest costs of a building, as Code requires 15 CFM per person. The system is so sophisticated that it senses singing in the ministry center by the increased level in carbon dioxide and this allows more fresh air into the building. When the carbon dioxide level lowers, the fresh air also reduces (during non-free cooling weather).
For the New Hope Church, the improved system will pay for itself in energy savings and reduced repair costs in less than eight years. Think of this when you estimate the system’s life expectancy of 30 to 50 years of usage.
Needless to say, the administration of the church has been very pleased with the results they received from ABEL Heating & Cooling.
Our New Challenge
Today, Abel is busy installing air conditioning in a 170 year old building. Working with architectural engineers, we came up with a plan to use the existing Oculus… changes, we’re installing the new ducting in the Bell Tower.
Watch for a future Blog featuring the full-scale effort made in bringing air conditioning to this beautiful church.
If you are a member of the decision making group at your church, this information may be invaluable when considering changes for your HVAC needs.
At Abel we have technicians with the expertise to answer your questions and give you the best evaluations when considering installing new equipment.
Give us a call at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us