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Last edited 16 Jan 2021
Heat load in buildings
It can be used to refer to the quantity of heat per unit of time (usually over an hour) that is required to heat a given space in order to maintain it at a given temperature. In poorly insulated buildings, the heat load will be greater than in thermally efficient buildings. In contrast, in a building with a very high level of thermal efficiency, the heating demand can be practically negligible. In Passive houses, this is around 15kWh/(m2a)) which is roughly 10% of the energy used in conventional buildings.
The term heat load can also refer to a calculated thermal quantity used to establish the capacity of a cooling system to enable it to maintain the temperature below a required level in a building or space. To do this, it is necessary to account for all potential heat-producing activities (heat sources), including solar radiation, people, machines, lighting, kitchens, computers, and so on within that building or space.
For example, a data centre housing computers and servers will produce a certain heat load that derives from an electrical load. This heat load will have to be absorbed and conveyed to the exterior by the building’s cooling system. Once the heat load is quantified, HVAC engineers can design the necessary cooling system to ensure it can effectively keep the space at the desired temperature.
- Heat load (BTU) = Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m) x 141
- So, for a room measuring 5m x 4m x 3m = 60 > x 141 = 8,460 BTU.
- (For measurements in feet, the formula becomes:
- Heat load (BTU) = Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m) x 4)
Where there are more occupants, add 500 BTU for every additional person:
- 8,460 + (500 x 4) = 10,460 BTU.
- To convert BTU to kW, 1 BTU = 0.00029307107 kW.
- So, from the example above, 10,460 BTU = 3.065 kW.
The method described above can provide an outline idea of the heat load. More detailed methods should be used to achieve greater accuracy.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Air handling unit.
- Approved documents.
- Building services.
- Fan coil unit.
- Heat meter.
- Heat metering.
- Heat pump.
- Heat recovery.
- Heat source.
- Heat transfer.
- Low carbon heating and cooling.
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing MEP.
- Radiant heating.
- Thermal comfort.
- Types of heating system.
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