A Texas hotel owner faced some considerable humidity in the region, but opting for a humidity control system gave him improved coil performance and comfortable guests, while still conforming to franchise-wide specifications regarding makeup air design.
Ben Mousavi, owner of KEIV, Inc., has three Hilton franchised hotels. As a franchisee, there are specific guidelines to the design and construction of the hotel that must be approved. Hilton specifications require that the hotel be pressurized with dehumidified fresh air via a centralized makeup air system. This approach eliminates moisture at its source prior to entering the building. The constant supply of makeup air to the rooms allows for a constant exhaust from the toilets, ensuring the guest of a clean smelling room with good air quality

Because Mousavi's newest franchise, a Hampton Inn, is located in Katy, TX, (near Houston), humidity control was a major concern. "In the Houston area, you can't avoid humidity - it is everywhere," Mousavi said. "The moisture is evident, and mold is a problem."

Mousavi discovered that a Munters humidity control unit (HCU) was capable of supplying air at much lower dewpoints than some options Hilton had recommended. The HCU, which is a refrigeration/desiccant hybrid, can deliver air at dewpoints of 45°F or lower during the most humid conditions while using less energy than refrigeration-based systems use to supply 55° dewpoints.

Slipping It Under The Door

After contacting Mark McMillan, principal of McMillan Choate & Associates, Mousavi decided that Munters would be the best HVAC choice because the equipment met all the Hilton requirements and offered many more features with their own benefits. The 12-ton HCU installed at the Hampton Inn in Katy, conditions 2,350 cfm of makeup air which is delivered throughout the lobby and corridors and is distributed to each room through the slits under the doors.

With the low dewpoint conditions supplied by the unit, the chance of mold and mildew forming can be greatly reduced. Surfaces that get wet from water events such as spills, shower and bath splashes, roof leaks, window leaks, etc., will dry much quicker. The accelerated drying time greatly reduces the ability of mold to form.

The conditions will be dry enough to minimize or eliminate condensate from forming on the PTAC cooling coils that are used to cool the guest rooms. Having dry PTAC coils not only improves their performance but also eliminates the mold smell and keeps them from overflowing down the exterior or interior of the building.

"With a Munters HCU, we can avoid moisture problems and save energy dollars at the same time," Mousavi said.

Since people are more comfortable at higher temperatures when the air is drier, the hotel guests will tend to maintain the rooms warmer, which can add up to significant energy savings. The Munters system design provided by McMillan Choate & Associates was approved by Hilton for providing the appropriate cooling capacity, and far exceeding their dehumidification requirements.

Drier Is Better

"The consultant for Hilton was impressed with the Munters system and even commented on whether Mousavi could afford it, but even with a slightly higher initial cost, the energy savings and moisture prevention are incomparable," McMillan said.

With the HCU units installed and no humidity problems evident, Mousavi is extremely pleased with the advantages he gained by choosing selecting them.

"You get what you pay for," Mousavi said. "The HCU has been working very well at keeping the hotel dry - no moisture on windows or walls, and the hotel is full of comfortable customers."

The enhanced features offered are greatly appreciated by franchisees, especially the 24-hour support and service which, if not offered by the manufacturer, can make or break a hotel's operation. "Even if the design does not require humidity control, I would still install a humidity control system because I know the benefits it supplies to the hotel," said Mousavi.ES