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Old   January 12, 2013, 23:37
Default Hardware to model HVAC performance
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Nagita Karunaratne
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Hello,

I don't know if this question has been answered prior but I am interested in building a PC to model HVAC performance in residential and commercial building.

I want to test different models using:

1) ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) Manual J,D,S,T standards
2) Energy simulation software such as Energy Plus
3) OpenFOAM CFD software
4) Basic hand calculations

I want to see how closely these different methods of simulating energy loads and estimating equipment specs actually agree. I want to know how reliable the ACCA manuals are to more precise and time-consuming methods.

If I want to model the heat loads on a typical 2500sq ft house or a larger commercial building or even a multi-storey highrise what type of computer system will I need? Or is this even possible with a single workstation.

It has been some time since I used CFD software. The last time was with iDEAS/Fluent on a SGI workstation with 64MB of RAM if that give you an idea.

Thanks,
Nagita
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Old   January 18, 2013, 18:13
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I can't give you any too specific recommendation, but of course I think the CFD will have the highest requirements in terms of computing power. I don't know about #2, but CFD is usually one of the most demanding softwares...

Today it should not be an issue to get a good workstation. Prices dropped so much, you can even get a 64GB RAM machine for home, by using gaming hardware. And you don't even need to be a millionaire

For this kind of simulation, the 2500sq ft house or maybe a SMALL commercial building, (depending on the detail you want to put in), I would say a usual workstation (let's say 64GB which is pretty convenient with a Sandy Bridge E) would have enough memory to run your kind of simulations. It's just a matter of time. I assume it's steady state since you compare it to hand calculations and similar stuff, so a 6- or -core machine should handle it in a reasonable time (a few hours to a few days). Maybe you can put together a few identical systems if it turns out that running on a single system takes too much time.

For a highrise I would go for a bigger cluster, but you might get the computing power from Amazon or a similar provider. There are plenty out there, just use Google or any other search engine.

Or course it heavily depends on your requirements, so my recommendation is just a rough estimation. Maybe you can do it with less memory, maybe you need more. That depends so much on the detail, if it's steady or transient simulation etc... But I hope you can get the point, CFD can be used for many applications today, without the need for $50 million hardware...
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