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An Overview of Pneumatic HVAC Controls by Andrew Stratton

An Overview of Pneumatic HVAC Controls by
Article Posted: 02/04/2015
Article Views: 97
Articles Written: 5522
Word Count: 522
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An Overview of Pneumatic HVAC Controls

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems require a setup that enables the user to determine the ambient temperature of the spaces within the building. To ensure the appropriate use of heating and cooling, controls must be efficient and easy to use. Pneumatic HVAC controls offer benefits for specific types of systems, but electronic heating and cooling can also be advantageous.

How It Works

This setup utilizes compressed air to set heating and cooling. Copper and plastic tubes make up the configuration, moving compressed air between the switch and a valve actuator located within the device. Thermostats and sensors within the unit are responsible for maintaining line pressure between the sensor and the valve actuator. As temperature and humidity vary, sensors respond accordingly to move the valve actuator, and the compressed air delivers messages throughout the system.


This design is inexpensive to install, use, and maintain. Pneumatic HVAC controls are also durable. It's common for work areas to be potentially hazardous. When a work area must remain free of electronic sparks, this setup is ideal because it is not electronic. It's also possible to use the structure at a reduced load such as 25, 50, or 75 percent, by setting the damper at a specific position, when desired. Electrical systems do not offer this variable. In addition, the compressed air used in this system is oil-free, clean, and dry.

Electrical Based DDC vs. Pneumatic HVAC Controls

Electrical based systems use an electronic signal to operate the heating and cooling mechanisms. With pneumatic HVAC controls, no electrical wiring is necessary to connect a thermostat with the device. Instead, air lines will be present throughout a building, supplying compressed air between an air compressor and thermostats. Additional air lines will also be present between the thermostats and local control devices. The compressed air moving through these air lines makes this nonelectrical option noisier than an electronic setup. Compressed air systems are also typically less reliable than electronic systems.

Converting to DDC

The conversion process to switch to an electrical scheme can be technically involved. Each thermostat present in the configuration will require the installation of wiring. This wiring may necessitate additional power circuitry to manage the electrical demands. Adding additional power sources could also necessitate extra transformers. It's possible to leave pneumatic actuators, or you can choose to replace them with electronic actuators.

It's also necessary to replace temperature, humidity, and pressure sensing devices to ones that will be compatible with the DDC controllers. It's not mandatory to replace existing valves or dampers, which can save on conversion expenses. Modules will need to be installed to operate HVAC components.

Because existing pneumatic HVAC controls can be dated, it may be necessary to tear out the existing air lines prior to installing the new electrical wiring. This process can be expensive and labor-intensive, so some people choose to avoid this process, if possible.

Assess your heating and cooling needs to determine which setup fits your needs and business operation for optimal comfort and energy usage.

When considering pneumatic HVAC controls in PA, residents visit Energy Equipment & Control, Inc.. Learn more at

Related Articles - pneumatic, hvac, controls, in, pa,

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