This year was a little different... The Pie & Pint has traditionally been a showcase of the latest and greatest that Ability have to offer. However, given the number of game-changing developments currently in progress, we’re going to hold a bigger event in 2018 to present this next generation of Fan Coil Units and Control systems.

The exact dates will be posted as soon as they are known...

World Projects

5 Green Stars 'Down Under'

Chilled beams or fan coils, the debate rumbles on about which is more energy efficient and everyone probably has a view on this. However, it is a fan coil project that has just been awarded the highest energy rating in New Zealand for an ‘As Built’ building. ‘As Built’ means the ‘Occupied Running Reality’, not just the design expectation. The project in question, TPK house in Wellington, was Ability’s first full Matrix installation outside the UK and has been awarded the New Zealand Five Green Star Award. The award was not only for energy efficiency per se but also included innovation points, one of which, was for local fresh control air which was managed by the integrated fan coil strategy written and applied by Ability.

So what is it that makes TPK and Ability fan coils generally so efficient – it’s pressure (or the lack of it!)

Ability FCU at TPK

Building systems, be they airside or hydraulic, are loaded with devices, which generate the need for more system pressure. Examples that spring to mind are air volume control dampers, double regulating valves, measuring stations or orifice plates and now, the pressure independence cartridges of PICC valves. These are all devices that produce no cooling or heating effect themselves but are deemed necessary simply as a means to balance or quantify the system.

However the reality with modern fan coil systems is that all these elements, yes all these elements, can be removed, substantially reducing the continuous ‘energy sapping’ pressure demands on air movement fans and water moving pumps.

Hydraulics and Water Flow Rates - ePIV valves

The ePIV valve is an electronic pressure independent valve, which has no mechanical pressure equalising cartridge and requires no more differential pressure than is necessary to achieve the design water flow through it! In an Ability fan coil strategy, the ePIV is the modulating flow control valve but replaces the double regulating valves, measurement devices and even removes the need for local strainers.

The ePIV continuously modulates in order to provide the correct water flow rate by electronically monitoring the actual water flow rate through the valve and adjusting its position accordingly. There is no mechanical pressure independence cartridge because it does not need one. Whatever the flow required and whatever the pressure, the valve will continually adjust to deliver the correct water flow in order to meet the duty requirement as defined by the control strategy.


This is a vastly simplified process. Via either the BMS, the supplied software or a physical switch on the unit, all the fan coils are instructed to open their valves to their design water flow positions. Given that there is enough water being provided to the floor or the branch and given a few minutes to settle, the fan coils will reliably achieve flow and report this to be the case. These confirmed flows can easily form the backbone of a commissioning / handover report.

The two water flow tolerance values (upper and lower) are held within the Ability strategy and the system will only be satisfied when the measured flow sits within the pre-defined flow tolerance range. Furthermore , as the ePIV itself measures and sets design water flows for commissioning purposes, the system requires no mechanical (pressure imposing) orifice plates and because the valve has no mechanical pressure independence cartridge to clog, no strainers are required local to the fan coil.

Pump Optimisation

Ability’s own strategy continually polls all fan coils on a project to identify the greatest need (flow and pressure) at any time and then, through the BMS, optimises the pump speed to satisfy that maximum (index unit) demand and no more.

Air Volumes

Of course, the air flow on the majority of Ability fan coils is once  again, a self setting feature on the unit. The air volume per fan is input into the controller during the manufacturing process and the unit automatically establishes those values once installed. These volumes are, in exactly the same way as the water flow, remotely adjustable using the software tools provided or through the BMS.

Soft Landings

An Ability ePIV can play a large part in any 'soft landed' offering. Since the flow rates are uploaded in Ability’s factory and maintained electronically, they can just as easily be adjusted ‘electronically’. Most Ability fan coils can report to the BMS the various temperatures and values that enable occupiers or their FM team, to establish whether the air conditioning is performing as per the design intent. If it is, then all well and good but if changes are required, be they minor or wholesale, Ability fan coils can be retrained, reset or completely reconfigured without the need for on site personnel to  go anywhere near the actual unit. No desk surfers, no high 'vis’ and hard hats wandering newly occupied floors looking for faults or making adjustments – remote continuous commissioning is the future.


The Ability control strategy, which can include the new ePIV, has now been listed on the Energy Technology List. Therefore, any developer nowadays can not only benefit from the remote access features of the Ability ranges providing a new dimension of post handover involvement and satisfaction but can also take advantage of the Enhanced Capital Allowance tax breaks that only an ETL listed product can afford. This new ePIV from Ability can be applied to all Ability fan coil ranges  including EVO (Standard ECs) and the unique Ability Matrix ranges.


Of course what differentiates fan coils from other product styles is their inherent flexibility in the way they can be applied and flexibility in the way they can adapt. A fan coil installation may outlive a number of tenants each of which will inevitably require a different usage for their spaces. With products such as chilled beams a building’s characteristics are effectively defined at handover, leaving little chance of making any cost effective changes. With fan coils however, especially remote setting types such as Matrix, the configuration of any building can change and can be changed every day if necessary.

Since fan coils are now every bit as efficient as chilled beams but undeniably more flexible, Ability fan coils inevitably have a prominent role to play in providing environmental comfort and energy effectiveness in building projects of the future. If further proof is needed, simply ask why would New Zealanders come all the way to the UK for a fan coil !!