Kele Blog

Create Healthier IAQ in Schools with Federal Funding

In the world of HVAC and BAS, some aspects of the industry are seasonal rather than year-round. Because of this, you must stay up to date on deadlines for applications that directly impact funding and grants; because more than likely, they’ll directly impact you when you bid for projects this year and next year.

So what’s new on the horizon in the world of federal funding that may impact you in the not-so-distant future? We’re glad you asked!

New Funding is here!

As of January 11, 2024, the Biden-Harris administration announced the availability of up to $32M in grant funding to work on indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools. The EPA says that this funding opportunity “will protect children’s health by providing resources to organizations that help K-12 schools in low-income, disadvantaged, and Tribal communities develop and adopt comprehensive indoor air quality management plans to reduce indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in schools.” It looks like this year’s school bidding projects will be a mix of retrofits, regular maintenance jobs, and new IAQ projects.

What is covered under this funding?

It’s been reported that the EPA is anticipating the awarding of four to six grants, totaling anywhere from $5-$8 million, that will help to support five years of IAQ and energy efficiency activities. Some of the projects that will be worked on to better benefit schools will include IAQ projects, greenhouse gas reduction projects, training and educational campaigns, and research and demonstration projects. The EPA also stated that the “grants will be distributed on a competitive basis to states, territories, Indian Tribes, nonprofit organizations, and local governments and educational agencies.” (For more information visit the EPA website here.)

So what does that mean for me?

Well the EPA stated, “The deadline to apply for the competitive grants is March 19, 2024. We estimate that the grants will be awarded by fall 2024.” This means that instead of starting your seasonal school bids in the spring of 2025, you may want to be the early bird in this scenario. Stay up to date with who in your area has been awarded federal funding or grants and get that worm . . . well project—you know what we mean!

According to the EPA, “Grantees will assist schools in developing and implementing comprehensive IAQ management plans. . . Schools with IAQ management plans are better prepared to:

  • Conduct preventative maintenance to avoid costly IAQ issues before they start.
  • React quickly when IAQ issues do arise.
  • Build resiliency into facility maintenance by documenting operations to ensure staff can step up to fill roles when needed.
  • Identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency to save money and the environment.
  • Prioritize necessary infrastructure upgrades so that schools can justify capital costs and are ready to take advantage of federal, state, and local funding opportunities.”

Get ready to play the long game and leverage federal funding into new business opportunities that work for you! We’ll keep you updated as the EPA announces new milestones for this latest initiative.

In the meantime, if you need help with any upcoming bids—Kele’s got you covered. Source your BOM with us online or call today and let our experts help you out.

World of Valve Performance

Contributed by Bray, Inc.

Kele is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Bray that is helping us kick off 2024 with a bang! Their catalog offering is deep and so is their knowledge, which is why Kele now offers over 27k Bray products that we know you’ll love.

Here’s just one example of how knowledgeable and industry-focused they are. Happy learning!
(foreword by Kele)

SAFETY INSTRUMENTED SYSTEM VALVES (SIS) & AUTOMATED EMERGENCY BLOCK VALVES (EBV)

Safety Instrumented System Valves or EBV’s are used to isolate/vent a process stream when unsafe process conditions exist. Actions required can be to open or close based on the process. Due to the critical nature of these valves, frequent testing is needed to ensure proper function during an emergency.
The role of a valve test is to verify the appropriate movement will occur during an event. Since full travel of the valve will interrupt the day-to-day process, a partial stroke test (PST) can be done as an unobtrusive option. This test will ensure all moving components are in working order by stroking the valve a few degrees. The test can be performed in many ways ranging from mechanical to fully automated digital solutions.

Full Stroke Testing (FST) adds the capability of validating the whole stroke of the valve. This test can be done during a plant shutdown since it will interrupt the process.

TEST = OPTIONS ARE:

> Manually Operated Mechanical PST
> Digitally Automated PST
> Digitally Automated FST

FEATURES

Manually Operated PST Provides:
• High degree of assurance that a complete valve movement will occur on demand
• Verification that the valve torque is still below actuator operating torque
• Local visual confirmation

Digitally Automated PST Provides:
• Verification that the control signals are operating as designed
• Customizable alarm sensitivity
• Valve condition evaluation and comparison to original PST signature
• Compliance reporting

Digitally Automated FST Provides:
• 100% confirmation of valve travel and confirmation of valve sealing conformance
• Valve condition evaluation and comparison to original FST signature
• Reduction in human error

DETAILED OPERATION AND CUSTOMIZATION

1. MANUALLY OPERATED MECHANICAL

PST S98 PARTIAL STROKE MODULE
The Bray PST module is an all-mechanical device that can be added to the S98 scotch yoke actuator. This patented design can serve as a dual function of extended travel stop and partial stroke test.

HOW IT WORKS
With the hand lever set in free mode, the push rod is free to move through the device allowing a full range of travel. When the hand lever is activated the push rod travel is limited. This travel limit can be adjusted anywhere in the valve rotation profile.

APPLICATION
By manually limiting the rotation of the valve to a small degree of movement the solenoid can be used to activate a partial stroke test. This test can be done locally at the unit by a technician without the use of outside electronics.

2.   DIGITALLY AUTOMATED PST

 ELECTRONIC APPROACHES

PST can also be done digitally with the use of a smart positioner such as the Bray 6A. By using a digital approach variables such as stiction, speed, dwell time, and friction are measured. These

variables improve the quality of a partial stroke test and help in predicting valve faults earlier than mechanical solutions. This is done by comparing tested values against user/manufacturer-defined limits. A second advantage is in the data logging capabilities of the Bray 6A. By documenting every test, the Bray 6A provides plant managers with a record that all testing processes are being performed in accordance with safety standards.

FULL CONTROLLABILITY

The Bray 6A provides plant managers control over multiple variables in the PST. Variables such as start position, stroke length, and ramp rate can be adjusted to meet the needs of the plant.

INITIATING A TEST CAN BE DONE MULTIPLE WAYS.

1. Local or remote initiation with Binary input activation

The 6A smart positioner is equipped with 1 binary input slot as standard. This input can be used to activate the partial stroke test ether remotely with PLC/DCS or by ESD push button

2. Data management software communicating through HART protocol

Units that are equipped with HART or Profibus will have the capability of activating a PST or FST through software. With the use of asset management software, all Bray 6A positioners in a plant are given a unique ID name chosen by the user. Through this system, plant managers will have the ability to view all positioners and run PST/FST as needed with real-time data being presented in the control room. PST/FST settings can be adjusted for individual positioners or by valve type/size/features/application. Variables such as test frequency, stroke distance, and time can be adjusted to improve performance on the fly.

3. Adjustable Cyclic Test Interval at agreed threshold safe start point

The Bray 6A positioner can be programmed to automatically run a PST at designated time intervals. Activation of this mode can be done both locally to the unit or remotely through the PDM software. Time intervals are done in days allowing users to meet their minimum availability requirements for an automated safe start point.

 

EXAMPLE 6A CIRCUITS

PST WITH SOLENOID

 

PST NO SOLENOID

 

3. DIGITALLY AUTOMATED FST

When possible, a full stroke test can be done to validate a full stroke signature and ensure valve isolation or unseating capability. Like a PST the FST is logged in the Bray 6A memory. An example of a full stroke baseline test response can be seen in the chart below.

ALARM NOTIFICATIONS

The 6A positioner has the capability of outputting alarm codes based on measured values such as valve torque increase over time, valve movement time, and hours of operation. A 3-tiered scale can be used to indicate the severity of variable changes. The below images outline the visual display of each alarm level found on the Bray 6A screen.

For a networked unit, this alarm can be sent to a PLC or DCS through a protocol network or binary outputs. Further diagnostics can drill down to the specific alarm reason.

As an example, in the context of a PST, the tiered system can be applied to the time required to run the PST. The below table outlines the tired alarm program for a 3-second PST.

By giving users the ability to control the sensitivity and relevance of these alarm variables you can create a system that reduces false positives and provides the user with fully customized valve reliability testing.

Check out Bray products and solutions now at Kele!

 

New Search Filters

KELE SEARCH: REENGINEERED & READY!

Over 120 New Search Filters to Help You Shop

We’ve added over 120 new search filters on kele.com to help you source parts faster & easier! Click a few buttons to apply customizations and … presto!

Save time: Find parts faster.
Customized solutions: Tailor your search based on your job specifications.
Source from the job site: Refined searches are ideal for smaller screens meaning sourcing from your phone or tablet on the job site just got easier!

And … there’s more to come! Updates for our site continue to be built so we can best support your sourcing experience.

New & Improved Product Detail Page

A whole new level of product info just for you.

Kele.com’s Product Detail Pages just got a major update and we’re here to give you the 411 on what’s been done!

Over 90 thousand product pages were updated to give you an even better sourcing experience. But what changed? Aspects like “brand”, “images”, “product specifications”, and more have been optimized to enhance your sourcing ability. This means that most parts have a detail-rich page to better inform YOU!

There’s not an aspect that our technical experts or product experts left untouched with this latest update. Better up-to-date information. Better product images. Better access to product-specific information. Better everything!

Explore the improved experience geared towards making your next time sourcing with us the best one yet! Start your search now here.

All Things BACnet

Building Automation and Control Networks.

BACnet.

An industry staple that continues to revolutionize both building automation and the world of HVAC. Is it any wonder that more and more suppliers and distributors are broadening their spheres to keep up with the demand from customers? And for good reason!

So how did BACnet get started?

During the summer of 1987, ASHRAE had an inaugural committee meeting* where the topic of conversation was focused on creating a standard open protocol for the building automation industry. The committee was comprised of three distinct working groups: Data Type and Attribute Working Group, Primitive Data Format Working Group, and Application Services Working Group. They all worked together to create a consensus regarding a standard for BACnet. And in 1995, they achieved their goal by creating ASHRAE/ANSI Standard 135.

As an important note—we of course can’t forget the “Father of BACnet” himself, Michael Newman, whose dedication and commitment to what BACnet could one day become truly helped it reach new heights.

But what really makes BACnet so great? Well, as ASHRAE puts it, “BACnet provides a comprehensive set of messages for conveying encoded binary, analog, and alphanumeric data between devices including, but not limited to:

(a) hardware binary input and output values,
(b) hardware analog input and output values,
(c) software binary and analog values,
(d) text string values,
(e) schedule information,
(f) alarm and event information,
(g) files, and
(h) control logic.

It models each building automation and control computer as a collection of data structures called objects, the properties of which represent various aspects of the hardware, software, and operation of the device. These objects provide a means of identifying and accessing information without requiring knowledge of the details of the device’s internal design or configuration.” (Read more about Standard 135-2016 here.)

Another interesting aspect of BACnet is that it’s not proprietary information. So because it’s an open protocol system, anyone can write it. It just needs to follow basic rules, commands, and of course industry standards. Talk about an easily accessible feat of technology that the industry is lucky to have!

BTL Certification

What is BACnet Testing Laboratories (BTL)? The entity was developed and is also operated by BACnet International. They support interoperability testing and compliance testing activities when it comes to all things BACnet, while also overseeing the global product certification program and administering the BTL Working Group (BTL-WG).

Some of the responsibilities of the BTL as defined by them are as follows:

  • Develop and maintain the BACnet product test requirements and testing policies
  • Operate the global BTL Certification Program for BACnet
  • Maintain a public listing of BTL Certified products
  • Recognize testing laboratories suitable for certification testing
  • Organize the annual BACnet International-sponsored Interoperability Workshop (PlugFest)

(Read more about BTL here.)

With BACnet being a leader in communication protocol for building automation and control networks, it’s allowed for an all-new era of communication and reporting for the world of HVAC and BAS. The industry continues to make leaps and bounds when it comes to this technology, and we cannot wait to see where it leads us next.

Our new, improved product detail pages now provide you with more in-depth information on our BACnet offering. Take a look at the following BACnet product detail pages to see what they can offer your customer’s building or facility:

Have a BAS or HVAC need? Kele can help! Call us today or chat with us on kele.com for custom solutions for your unique job specifications.

*To take a look at the original meeting notes from the inaugural committee meeting click here.

Ball Valves vs. Globe Valves: What’s the difference?

Contributed by Belimo (Jason Tables)

Picking the right components can make a significant difference in how well an HVAC system runs. Among these components, Globe Valves and Ball Valves often play a key role. Globe Valves are especially useful when precise flow control is required, whereas Ball Valves are ideally suited for applications requiring quick opening and tight close-off. In this blog, we’ll break down the differences between these two valves, how they work, and where they’re commonly found in HVAC systems.

Ball Valve controls the flow of fluid using a rotary ball with a hole running through the center. When the valve is open, the hole is aligned with the pipeline, which allows the flow to pass. When it’s closed, the hole is perpendicular to the flow, stopping the passage of fluid. A Ball Valve uses the rotation of the ball (increasing and decreasing its opening) to control the flow.

Most of the time, Ball Valves are used for chilled or hot water with up to 60% glycol concentration. They can be used for water-side control of air handling units in ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and water/steam control in heating systems.

Belimo offers a full line of industrial 2-way & 3-way Ball Valves that are available with non-spring return, spring return or electronic fail-safe actuators offering high close-off capabilities. The actuators operate using a standard voltage, allowing for on/off, modulating, or floating-point control, which moves the valve to the position specified by the control system.

Ball Valves such as the Belimo QCV and PIQCV are specially designed zone valves that are known for their reliability, cost-effectiveness, and easy installation. The Belimo CCV integrates the robust close-off functions of a Ball Valve with a specialized disc, ensuring an equal percentage flow characteristic for consistently accurate flow control. Less expensive Ball Valves are a common choice for shut-off valves due their ability to provide a quick and tight seal with a low pressure drop.

A Globe Valve is comprised of a linear travel plug which fits into a seat enclosed within a spherical body, which is where it gets its name. The flow is adjusted by moving the plug up or down, in proximity to the seat. When fully closed, the plug seals off the flow. Globe Valves are used in HVAC systems to regulate, throttle, or isolate flow. They are especially useful when precise flow control is needed, such as in hot water heating systems, steam systems, or in chillers where modulating flow is important for system performance.

Belimo offers Globe Valves in a range of sizes from ½” to 6”, which meet both ANSI 125 and ANSI 250 standards. They are available with bronze or stainless-steel trim options and can be equipped with spring return, non-spring return, or electronic fail-safe actuators. Belimo Globe Valves are ideally suited for HVAC devices, including air handling units, terminal equipment, and hydronic systems operating in primary and secondary loops for water or steam service.

The choice between a Globe Valve and a Ball Valve depends on the specific needs of the application, but in general, for precise flow control, a Globe Valve is preferable, while for on/off operations or where a minimal pressure drop is desired, a Ball Valve is more suitable. Also, Globe Valves can be more expensive than Ball Valves, which too is a consideration.

Fire Safety & Prevention

And just like that, it’s fall again! Cooler temps are here which means your customer’s systems are breathing a sigh of relief and taking a break from battling high temps. But don’t let your guard down just yet!

With October (“Fire and Safety Month” to all of us HVAC folk) just a few days away, it’s time to ensure that you have a solid fire safety and prevention plan for your customers.

Fire Prevention

This year, Fire Prevention Week is happening from October 8th-October 14th, 2023. This yearly reminder is around to help get you all up to speed so you’re ready to tackle the month. Get those checklists ready and be prepared to go over your customers’ systems and make sure that nothing system-related has the potential to become a fire hazard.

Tips & Tricks for Fire Prevention

To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to fire safety and prevention, it’s imperative that your customers’ systems are in compliance with National Fire Protection Agency Codes (NFPA) 105, 90a, and 90b.

These codes will have you covered when it comes to fire and smoke systems, and all things HVAC and BAS, ensuring that they are up-to-date and fully functioning. (Want to take a look at all of the NFPA codes? Visit the NFPA here and start reading!)

Fire Prevention Checklist

  • Check for leaks
  • Ensure clear, unobstructed ducts
  • Ensure all lines are connected and that there is no damage
  • Make sure that all sensors and alert systems, especially emergency stop systems, are in working order and functioning as intended

And as always, practicing the 3Ms of HVAC will help your customers stop a future fire or some other disaster in its tracks:

  • Maintenance: do regular work to maintain the system
  • Management: manage the different aspects of the system to ensure peak performance
  • Monitoring: monitor the system and its many sensors and applications so that it is running effectively and efficiently

Kele is here to help you help your customers. Check out our favorite fire safety products on kele.com. Need additional help? Call and speak with one of our technical experts today!

 

Heat Pumps vs. Gas Furnaces

With the heat turned up to “crispy hot” outside (if you’re in the south like us—you get it), we know that even thinking about all things heating is the furthest thing from your mind right now. But fall is just around the corner and with it comes cooler temps that will eventually slide us straight into winter.

Heat Pumps or Gas Furnaces

If you’re planning ahead (i.e., what all of you should be doing!!!), then thinking about heating systems is already on your mind. And with that comes the age-old heat pump vs. furnace debate!

Pros & Cons

Heat pumps run on electricity whilst furnaces typically run on either gas, oil, or electricity (we’ll dive into all three in October—keep your eyes peeled!). What are some factors that should be considered when talking about options with customers?

  • Climate
  • Budget
  • Maintenance and size requirements
  • Efficiency standards
  • Safety

Generally speaking, heat pumps produce less heat because they pull in heat from outside air and then transfer it indoors. So if you’re working in a climate that trends towards warmer temperatures, then a heat pump is more than likely what you’ll want to recommend to your customers. They’re more versatile AND they can also act as air conditioners in the summer months.

And while furnaces only provide heat, if you’re working in a cold climate—well then your customers are going to want to be toasty warm 24/7. In climates that are colder than what a heat pump would work in, gas furnaces work and fare much better than some heat pumps when it comes to energy efficiency. Plus, with the lower cost of natural gas vs. electric costs (it’s all relative these days, though), lifetime costs should be calculated as a win for this option!

Getting Down to Business

When it comes to deciding on which is better suited, sometimes having a helping hand is well…helpful! Kele is here to help you assess your needs, discuss all those pros and cons mentioned above, and create a custom solution that you’ll be proud to take to your customer. Visit us on kele.com or call today—Kele’s got you covered!

R-454b: The New Refrigerant on the Block

As we discussed earlier this year (read more here), new SEER ratings have been put into place by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2023 and beyond. But are those the only changes in store for HVAC this year? We don’t think so!

Refrigerant Standards Are Changing

One of the final changes that have been rumored to begin at the end of 2023 and early 2024 deals with all things refrigerant. But to better understand why these changes are happening, you first need to know what HFC is. *As concrete dates become available, we will update to reflect those changes.

What is HFC?

HFC stands for hydrofluorocarbon—say that five times fast! HFCs are a group of synthetic gases typically used in refrigeration and cooling. It’s also important to note that HFCs are considered and termed as greenhouse gases by the EPA. Now why is this important? Well, in recent years both the EPA and DOE have ramped up initiatives to combat climate change and the impact that carbon emissions/greenhouse gases are having on the environment.

But what does this mean for refrigerant(s) used in commercial HVAC?

It means that two types of refrigerants, that have been linked to having negative effects on the ozone, are being switched to a newer type that is more environmentally friendly. Refrigerants R-22 and R-410a are being moved away from and allegedly, the newer R-454b will be taking their place. The EPA is committed to reducing hydrofluorocarbon emissions as a whole and this will be a large step in moving towards that goal. (Read more on the EPA’s actions and position on reducing HFCs here.)

It also means that you are likely to see system overhauls in relation to newer refrigeration begin to pop up. Retrofits will not be an option for a variety of reasons with the use of these newer refrigerants. Older parts will begin to get phased out by the industry, opening up new project opportunities for you. Both you and the environment get a win!

To better familiarize yourself with the EPA’s standards and position on this new move towards more environmentally friendly refrigerants, read up on it here and here.

Need help with your next job that involves refrigerants? Give us a call today or visit kele.com to get what you need—Kele’s got you covered!

Particulate Matter Sensors

Cue The Magic School Bus theme song folks because today we’re going on a journey to learn more about particulate matter!

But first…what exactly is a particulate?

Particulates are microscopic liquid or solid particles of matter that exist suspended in the air. Such particulates are commonly referred to as atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), atmospheric aerosol particles, and suspended particulate matter (SPM).

*Image courtesy of the EPA. To learn more about PM visit the EPA’s website here.

What causes particulates?

Particulates can be formed by natural forces or by human action/inaction. An example of a particulate that’s formed by natural forces would be particulates from forest fires. An example of particulates that are due to human forces would be emissions from vehicles.

*Image courtesy of the Global Weather and Climate Center

 

So why do these tiny things even matter?

Based on the size of the particulate, they can either cause you no issues whatsoever or they can do some serious damage to you via your lungs and in some cases affect your overall health. The size of particulates is what determines whether they get filtered out by the lungs or if they end up settling in your lungs and/or bronchi.

It’s been generally agreed upon that particulates smaller than 10 micrometers (coarse particulate matter, PM10) can settle into the deepest parts of the lungs and cause damage within the bronchioles or alveoli. Along with that, particulates that are fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are able to penetrate the alveoli and even smaller particulates (ultrafine particulate matter, PM0.1), are able to pass through the lungs completely and affect both organs and blood.

How the heck are we measuring this?!?

Traditionally, particulate matter is determined using the measurement of micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³). And the technology we have in place makes measuring PM overall easy by measuring the PM concentration or particle size distribution.

*Image courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service

Being able to measure particulate matter gives us the ability to differentiate between good and bad air quality and all that comes with it. Isn’t it wonderful that the technology we need to monitor and measure it exists?

As more and more instances begin to pop up requiring monitoring and measurement of particulate matter, it’s time to get ahead of the game so you can keep your customer’s buildings safe and secure. Particulate matter sensor units can come with or without display, field adjustable alarm relays, BACnet/Modbus, and in some cases tricolor LCD for visualization of the overall air quality index.

Browse our offering of particulate matter sensors here or call us today to get what you need. We’re here to help you make sure your next job gets done the easy way—the Kele way!