The process behind choosing the right PTAC

This is part three in a series on PTAC and HVAC maintenance. Click here to see part two: The ebb and flow of PTAC replacements.

Some hotels have been holding on to their outdated PTAC equipment for some time and may be surprised with what is now on the market. In terms of modern advances, Douglas Mackemer, national director of parts, supplies and specialized equipment for Carrier Enterprise, said the biggest advances have been made in energy savings and sound levels.

“Accessories, such as insulated sleeves, can drop equipment sound even lower than the machine on its own, and also stop the transfer of outside noise,” Mackemer said, adding that the construction of PTAC sleeves has also improved.

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“We’ve made the covers [for our machines] a little sleeker, more attractive, but the new units are much quieter and more efficient,” said Don Wojcik, national manager of LG’s PTAC division. 

The sound levels of modern PTACs are in the low 40-decibel range, which can positively impact the guest comfort level of the room. “If you check guest complaints across the industry, the number one or two by far is a noisy air conditioner,” Wojcik said.

But a sophisticated machine can still be a detriment if used improperly, as many PTACs are. Equipment must be chosen based on the size of the room, and many hotels are guilty of incorrectly “sizing” machines with rooms. According to Wojcik, 30 cubic feet per minute per square feet of floor space is the right measurement, but if it’s impossible to ascertain the correct size, he recommends under-sizing slightly. “Ideally you want to right-size, but err on under-sizing to help de-humidify the rooms,” Wojcik said.

Mackemer said the reason for this is that a PTAC that is too strong for a room will begin a process called short cycling, wherein it never allows the room to dry out and creates a damp atmosphere conducive to mold or mildew growth. He conceded that sizing equipment for a room is a delicate balancing act that depends not only on room size, but also construction.“Is the exterior wall wood or brick? Is it well insulated? What is the quality of glass? What direction does the room face?” Mackemer asked.

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