Fan Coil Units
Little will be discussed on these systems as they are not as common as they once were in the apartment / condo market. This type of system was the next step in evolution of high rise heating and cooling. Fan coil units followed systems that were heating only, using cast iron radiators fed by big inefficient central boiler systems. The fan coil unit had ductwork to circulate air in each room of an apartment and multiple radiators were replaced with one hot water coil in a fan cabinet. The same central hot water boiler that fed the individual radiators still provided the heat to the fan coil units and the same piping system that delivered hot water during the heating season could deliver chilled water during the cooling season. You would have been considered to be living in the lap of luxury back in the late 60’s if you had an apartment with air conditioning. The problems with this type of system were the unreliable central boiler or chiller and the cost of seasonal changeover. The property manager would have to wait until there was almost a guarantee that heat was no longer required before having his contractor shut the heat off and start the cooling. Later building construction separated the chilled water piping from the heating piping so that there were times of the year when any tenant could have either heating or cooling at the flick of a switch. These units are still operating in some of the older buildings in the city, however the big push to convert rental units to condos starting in the 80’s has upgraded many of the old systems to the new designs of high velocity units and self-contained units for boomer generation.
Fan coil cabinets or units are still available, but are a far cry from the units of old. The new units will have either multi-speed blowers or variable speed fans and operate for half the hydro costs of old. That is technically a lie as the cost may be more, due to the cost increases per kilowatt, but the number of kilowatts has decreased.