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American Spot Cooling Blog

Heaters 101: How a Heater Works

20 November 2020

Heaters, in one form or another, are all around us. Even those who live in warmer climates drive cars with heaters in them. Although commonly used for personal applications, heaters can be a critical element for many commercial applications, too, such as drying concrete and/or keeping employees warm at a construction site. A commercial heater can prove to be an incredibly valuable asset for a business, so it’s worth knowing how some of them work to determine which kind might be the best for your needs.

Mobile Air & Power Rentals offers many different types of heaters, but today we’ll discuss three of our most popular variations, which are direct fired, indirect fired, and electric. They are all unique in fundamental ways, but every one of our heaters has two essential elements: a component that creates heat, and a fan to blow air over that component. A lot of complex design goes into each individual heater, but their basic function is quite simple to understand.

When it comes to efficiency, a direct fired heater is usually the best option available. Inside each heater is a burner, or a component that dispenses fuel to be burned during the unit’s operation. A fan then blows air through the burner, resulting in a warm stream of air circulating through a heated space. While the direct contact between the flame and the processed air makes direct fired heaters extremely efficient, it also means that combustion byproducts will enter the heated space. In applications where clean air isn’t a necessity, direct fired heaters are a great option for efficient and reliable heat.

Indirect fired heaters are often a suitable alternative for environments that require the air to remain clean. They function similarly to a direct fired heater, in the sense that they also have a burner and a fan. The difference, however, is that the burner is contained within a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a chamber that’s sealed off from all of the processed air, where an additional exhaust chute or duct vents any combustion byproducts out of the heat exchanger. This keeps combustion byproducts separate from the processed air, resulting in a heated space with clean air. Since the heat exchanger must absorb the heat and then transfer it to air being passed through the unit, and since the combustion byproducts have their own small amount of thermal energy, it is less efficient than a direct fired unit. When clean air is a necessity, however, indirect fired heaters are an excellent choice.

While direct and indirect fired heaters are nearly alike, electric heaters are a class of their own. These units still have a fan, but a heating element is used in place of a burner. Much like how a light bulb creates heat and light when turned on, electricity passing through the resistive element will generate heat. The heat is transferred by air passing through the element, in turn warming up the heated space. Electrical heaters are typically simpler and more portable than fired heaters. If fuel isn’t readily available, an electrical heater is likely the best choice for a business.

Although there are many types of heaters that can vary dramatically in how they work, these are some of MAPR’s best and most popular varieties. In our next installment, we’ll discuss make-up air and why we use it in some of our heat solutions.

Preventable HVAC Fire Hazards

1 October 2020

October 4th – 10th is Fire Prevention Week, marking a great opportunity to learn how to keep our homes, businesses, and other spaces safe from preventable fire hazards. Although the National Fire Protection Association is focusing its efforts this year on educating people about cooking-related fire hazards (since cooking fires account for the majority of home fires), it’s still important to learn how you can limit preventable fire hazards at any business or facility. Some of the culprits worth remembering are HVAC fire hazards, as they never seem to be that important until it’s far too late.

Common Hazards

The most common HVAC fire hazard by far is a loose electrical connection. Over time, wiring connections can become loose due to the vibration of HVAC equipment. These connections can generate significant heat due to the reduced amount of conductor material transmitting an electrical load, which in turn may damage or burn wiring insulation. The result is potentially exposed wiring that can short circuit if it touches grounded metal.

Another problematic hazard is a damaged heat exchanger. When damaged, a heat exchanger may no longer completely seal off the flame from other components of a heater as well as the space it’s heating. This can cause carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts to enter a space that requires clean air, leading to potential air quality issues and ultimately, an explosive fire hazard.

Improper fuel conditions also pose a serious concern. Fuel leaks will obviously create a major fire hazard, but high gas pressure is another issue worth considering. When gas pressure is abnormally high, a heat exchanger may become dangerously hot. This will not only cause inevitable damage to the heat exchanger and other components of the unit, but it’s essentially a fire waiting to happen.

Lastly, it’s important that the area surrounding a furnace is clear of clutter. Since the unit can get quite hot during operation, any flammable materials that are near or leaning on the unit are at risk of catching fire. This is the most preventable fire hazard related to HVAC equipment, since anyone can take the time to ensure that the furnace area is free of other objects.

Hazard Prevention

In general, the best way to discover and amend these fire hazards is to perform regular maintenance of your HVAC system. A technician will not only spot potential fire risks, but they will also ensure that your system is functioning properly and isn’t at risk of breaking down in the future, so maintenance is well worth the cost. And if the maintenance or repair means your HVAC system will be out of commission for a certain period of time, a temporary HVAC solution from Mobile Air & Power Rentals will ensure that your facility still has proper ventilation and temperature control during that process.

Chillers 101: Why Rent a Chiller

18 September 2020

Chillers are excellent machines capable of delivering large amounts of cooling to both indoor spaces and industrial processes. There are plenty of reasons to rent a chiller, but it's important to know the reasons to rent cooling in the first place.

When it comes to cooling, there are nearly endless scenarios that require a temporary solution, but here are just a few of them. The least stress-inducing reason is supplemental cooling. This means no part of your current system is broken, but seasonal temperatures are so high that your existing air conditioning system isn't cutting it anymore. Or, more likely, you changed part of an industrial/chemical process and need a long-term rental to meet new cooling requirements. Rather than purchasing a permanent unit, renting for the season can give your facilities a cooling boost without being such a drain on your budget.

Another common scenario is a construction delay. In this case, the only thing stopping your new facility or building expansion from opening is the delayed arrival of your permanent chiller. Renting is a proactive way to circumvent this limitation and get your operations up and running on time.

Lastly, there's every business owner's nightmare: emergency equipment failure. Whether it's due to a natural disaster or some equipment malfunction, these shutdowns can be costly and need to be addressed immediately. And quite often, the chiller part needed to make the repair won't be available any time soon. In this case rental cooling is undoubtedly the best way to restore operations as soon as possible. Until your system is repaired and back on its own feet again, a rental cooling solution can keep things running smoothly.

But back to chillers. Once you've determined that you need to rent a cooling solution for one reason or another, there is still a matter of choosing between direct-expansion air conditioners and chillers for your cooling solution. Some circumstances make renting a chiller the obvious choice. If your facility already has a functional integrated cooling system, then tying in a rental chiller is likely the most efficient and economical option for a cooling solution. Or if you have a manufacturing process that's designed to accept water cooling, then rental DX air conditioners would not be an appropriate substitution.

However, there are some situations where the benefit of renting chillers may not be immediately obvious. For instance, if it is critical for your cooling solution to take up as little space as possible, then chillers are the way to go. When it comes to larger cooling capacities, a chiller rated at a given tonnage will tend to take up less space than a DX air conditioner of the same rating. Additionally, the 6-inch hoses required for chillers are dramatically smaller than the 20-inch ducts that would be used on a similarly rated AC.

Perhaps the strongest reason to choose a chiller-based solution, even when you don't have an integrated cooling system, is cost. Once a job needs more than a certain amount of cooling – usually 150 tons – renting a chiller and a pair of air handler units is typically cheaper than renting a single direct-expansion air conditioner.

These are just some of the reasons to not only rent a chiller in the first place, but to rent one over a DX air conditioner. If you decide that a chiller rental is the right option for you, there are still a few more things you should know, such as what you should know before calling us for a rental chiller solution.

Chillers 101: What to Know Before Calling Us

18 September 2020

If you’ve read up on our previous two articles, then you’re well aware of how a chiller works, as well as the reasons to rent a chiller for your facility. But if you’ve used that information to determine that a chiller rental is the right option for you, there’s one last thing that might be useful to know: what information you should gather about your facility before giving us a call.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with giving us a call anyway, letting a skilled representative walk through your facility, and having him or her design your solution from scratch. And under any circumstance, a walkthrough is always useful for finding out all the details that may be relevant to designing the solution. But providing some basic information ahead of time can get you an immediate quote, empowering you to make informed decisions sooner rather than later. With that said, here is what you should know about your facility when giving us a call, starting with the information that’s the most important to getting an immediate quote.

Firstly, it’s important to know the specifications of your cooling system. The approximate tonnage of your chiller system is perhaps the most important information, since that will determine what exact equipment will be needed in your rental solution. If you don’t know the tonnage but happen to know the temperature and rate of flow of your chilled water supply, we can also use that to calculate how many tons of cooling are required.

Next up is the available voltage at your facility. This will determine whether your temporary solution will also require a transformer, since our units may operate at a different voltage than what’s available. The last detail that’s necessary for a quote is the approximate distance between the electrical and mechanical connections and the location where the chiller would be placed outdoors. In order to estimate how much power cable and water hose will be required, it’s important to know where we can tie into the chilled water supply and the building's power, and the distance between these two points and the rental chiller’s staging location. With all of these details, we can get you a rough quote for a rental chiller solution and work out the finer details as we go along.

If you’d like to be extra specific and try to provide as many details as possible from the get-go, it’s also helpful to know the size of the water connections that we’ll be tying into. This is not necessary for a quote, but it can help us provide you with a more accurate estimate.

These are the details that will help get you a quote as soon as possible. Now that you know what to look for, a little investigation into your facility can go a long way towards expediting the rental process. And if you can’t find out any of this information, that’s fine too. We’ll be happy to walk through the site and do the investigative work for you.

Chillers 101: How a Chiller Works

18 September 2020

Everyone knows what an air conditioner is. It's the machine that cools down a space and makes summer a bit more bearable indoors. However, not as many people are familiar with a chiller, which is a machine that also cools a space, but through a slightly different method. Both types of cooling units have their place in different applications, and it's important to understand why chillers are a practical choice for many buildings. To learn about the advantages of chillers, let's look at how they work.

The Refrigerant Cycle

The most common chiller is the vapor-compression type, which mechanically compresses and expands refrigerant in a system to absorb heat from an environment. Although the refrigerant runs through a continuous cycle, let's say that the cycle "begins" at the compressor. The refrigerant entering the compressor has a relatively low temperature and pressure. The compressor then takes this refrigerant and compresses it, which increases pressure and thus makes the refrigerant significantly hotter.

At this point the refrigerant is still a gas — a vapor to be exact — but this will change after the next step in the process. After the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it travels through a condenser, where heat is absorbed from the refrigerant and is eventually rejected outside of the building. The two types of condensers will be discussed below, but what is important is that the refrigerant loses some of its heat and becomes a liquid in the process. At this point, it is ready to be cooled down and to absorb heat from an environment.

Once refrigerant leaves the condenser, it makes its way to the expansion valve. The valve depressurizes the refrigerant (like covering the end of a garden hose with your thumb and only letting out a fine mist). This has the opposite effect of the compressor: the expanded refrigerant decreases pressure and becomes significantly cooler. From there, the refrigerant almost immediately goes into the evaporator, which is shaped like a big tank. Inside the tank, water runs through metal tubes that come into contact with the refrigerant (sometimes the refrigerant runs through the tubes instead). The cold refrigerant absorbs heat from the water before it eventually leaves the evaporator. From there, the relatively cool refrigerant travels back to the compressor and repeats the cycle all over again.

Chilled Water

The entire point of the refrigerant cycle is to absorb heat from a constant stream of water and to somehow reject the heat outside. So, once the chilled water is cooled inside the evaporator, where does it go?

Well, it depends on what needs to be cooled. If special equipment needs to be cooled, the water is pumped there. Otherwise, if the chiller is cooling down a space, the chilled water is pumped to an air handler unit. Inside the air handler unit, air is pushed through a coil that runs the chilled water, cooling the air much like how an evaporator cools the chilled water. Once the chilled water absorbs heat, it returns to the evaporator to be cooled again.

Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Chillers

There are two types of vapor-compression chillers, and the main difference lies in how the condenser rejects heat absorbed by the refrigerant. In a water-cooled chiller, the shape and function of the condenser is similar to the evaporator. Condenser water runs through the condenser tank and absorbs heat from the recently compressed refrigerant. The warm water is then pumped to a cooling tower, which is typically installed on the roof of a building. Inside the cooling tower, the condenser water cools down by coming into direct contact with a stream of ambient air. Afterwards, the condenser water is pumped back to the condenser. Since heat rejection is performed by the cooling tower, this type of chiller is stored inside a building and away from the elements.

An air-cooled chiller, on the other hand, is installed outside of a building. This is because the condenser is not a tank, but instead a "wall" of coils that come into contact with the outside air. Fans push air through the coils, absorbing heat from the refrigerant. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, but they both have the same function: remove heat from a continuous circuit of water.

Chillers vs. Air Conditioners

Where an AC would directly remove heat from a certain area, a chiller instead removes heat from water. This often makes a chiller the more efficient option for cooling larger buildings. Instead of placing an air conditioner on each floor of a building, a chiller allows the refrigerant cycle to occur in a basement or on a roof, far away from the main space of the building. And instead of trying to ventilate cold air across long distances, a chiller uses water as a more efficient mechanism for transferring cool media over a distance.

Now that you understand the basic function of chillers, you can make more informed decisions when determining what equipment your facility needs. If you need a chiller for one reason or another, there is still a matter of determining whether you should go for a rental unit or purchase your own. Next time, we'll discuss the reasons why you would rent a chiller.

When Two Cyclones Collide (Or Don’t!)

25 August 2020

As if 2020 wasn’t already an incredibly unique year, residents along the Atlantic coast have been presented with yet another uncommon challenge: two cyclones entering the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, an event that hasn’t happened since the 1930’s. What’s worse, many are worried that Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco may merge together, forming a single storm that’s much larger and can cause much more damage. While this is certainly a possibility, it’s important to look at the meteorological phenomenon that describes this kind of activity, and how the possibility of a “super hurricane” is not as likely as it may seem.

When two cyclones – whether they are depressions, storms, or hurricanes – come within close proximity of each other, the way they tend to behave is described as the Fujiwhara effect. Named after Sakuhei Fujiwhara, the 20th century Japanese meteorologist who first described the effect, the Fujiwhara effect occurs when two cyclones come within about 900 miles of each other. The two cyclones will begin to spin about a common point between the two systems. If one cyclone is significantly larger than the other, the smaller cyclone will likely orbit the larger one, eventually being absorbed into the larger system.

If the cyclones are approximately equal in size, the rotation around a common point will continue for some time, resulting in a few different possibilities. The first possibility is that they rotate around each other for a while and then shoot off in separate directions, their paths being altered by the interaction. Another possibility is that they will simply merge with each other. In this case, the most likely outcome is that the combined cyclone will be of approximately equal or weaker strength than either of the two systems before the merge.

That said, there is a slight chance that two merging systems will combine their strength, resulting in a “super storm” that can deal serious damage to an area. Although such an occurrence is very rare, this possibility has captivated the attention of many ever since the news of Laura and Marco occurring so closely to each other. Realistically, however, the evidence of this happening is few and far in between. As of right now, Marco is expected to dissipate while Laura continues to threaten the Texas–Louisiana coastline sometime this week.

It may be tempting to imagine a terrifying world where some mega hurricane causes cataclysmic destruction to the Southern coast, but it’s important to stay grounded in reality and prepare for the damage that Laura is likely to cause. Remember to make any emergency preparations that are necessary to stay safe, such as stocking up on supplies, creating an evacuation plan, safeguarding your residence against storm damage, and plenty of other measures.

Now is the Time for Us to Say "Thanks" to YOU!

27 November 2019

American Spot Cooling

Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to remind one another of the many reasons there are to be grateful. We gather on this day to be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, the success we have had, and for the blessings that will come.

Thanksgiving is more than the festivities, it gives us time to ponder the lessons that we have learned and how we can spread happiness around, to look back at all the great memories and good people who came into our lives. We appreciate you, our customers and clients, so much.

At this time of year our thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation. Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Veterans Day Spotlight

11 November 2019

In celebration of Veteran's Day, American Spot Cooling and Power Rental is proud and honored to spotlight some of the veterans on our team. Thank you for your service!

 Lee Morse
Lee Morse, the Vice President of Sales & Marketing of American Spot Cooling and Power Rental, is a veteran of the United States Army National Guard. Lee served 8 years and was a 52D "Power Generator Mechanic". Lee is also a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served in Iraq during years 2002 to 2003.

  Josh Downing
Josh Downing, holding the title of National Operations & Logistics Manager for American Spot Cooling and Power Rental, is a veteran of the United States Navy. Josh served 15 years and was a Machinist Mate.

  Scott Burnside
Scott Burnside, General Manager for our Texas Headquarters, is a veteran of the United States Army Reserves. Scott served 4 years and was part of the Infantry. Scott also held the title of 82nd Airborne Paratrooper.

  Jeff Donahue
Jeff Donahue, Service Manager for our Massachusetts Headquarters, is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. Jeff served for 4 years as a Machine Technician.

  Bob Markham
Bob Markham, a Sales Representative out of our North Carolina Regional Office, is a veteran of the United States Air Force. Bob served for 4 years and held the position of Avionics repair on F-4 Phantoms. 

  Steve Dennett
Steve Dennett, a Sales Representative for our Florida Regional Office, is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve. Steve served for 8 years as a 63S Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic. Steve is a two time recipient of the Army Commendation Award. 

  Colm Dempsey
Colm Dempsey, a lead technician out of our Greater New York Regional Office, is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. Colm served for 4 years as a Machine Technician. Colm is a four time meritorious team award recipient for guarding two different Presidents of the United States; Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

  Robert Keyes
Robert Keyes, a lead technician out of our Louisiana Regional Office, is a veteran of the United States Army. Robert served for 7 years and held the position of Generator Technician. 

Tackle Flooding Head-On with American Spot Cooling’s Dehumidifiers and Air Movers

11 July 2019

By Sebastian Kopacz

The end of winter is almost always followed by a substantial increase in flooding, and this year is certainly no exception. So far in 2019, the Southern United States has faced drastic rainfall and consequent flooding in many areas like Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. And now that hurricane season is in full swing for both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, you can expect hurricanes and other natural disasters to contribute to the flood tally.

Once flooding strikes an area, recovery is key to returning to ordinary life. After water recedes from a building, the damage must be minimized by removing any remaining moisture and preventing the growth of mold and mildew. American Spot Cooling has a variety of rental dehumidification equipment that can facilitate this process, including rental dehumidifiers, air movers, and air scrubbers. These units draw out moisture and purify air, limiting an area’s flood damage if action is taken quickly enough. And since ASC has a 24 hour emergency service, it’s easier than ever to act fast when flooding occurs.

Take a look at American Spot Cooling’s rental dehumidifiers page to learn more about our products and how they can help if heavy rains strike.

American Spot Cooling


Happy New Year from American Spot Cooling

25 December 2018

American Spot Cooling - Portable Air Conditioner Houston, TX

Happy New Year from American Spot Cooling. We would like to thank our customers and community for allowing our business to be part of your lives in 2018. We wish you a wonderful and prosperous 2019!

If we have had the pleasure of being your choice for air conditioning and power rental, we hope that we provided the highest level of customer service and care you desired. If you are in need of rental equipment in 2019, we hope that you consider American Spot Cooling for your prized possession, your business.

It is our sincere wish that in the New Year you are surrounded by warmth, family, and friendship. From all of us here at American Spot Cooling, have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Sincere best regards to you all.

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