Perimeter Heaters/Controller Cut Elec. 30%


EAST AURORA, N.Y.-The world headquarters building of Fisher-Price Inc. here has successfully met a three-year payback on the installation of microprocessor-controlled baseboard heaters that have cut the facility's electricity bills by 30 to 40 percent, according to facilities foreman Jerry Schneider.

Schneider explained that the all-glass, 62,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1976. It includes a three-story interior atrium that creates a "chimney effect," sweeping warm air upward and leaving the perimeter offices too cold, he explained.

To solve the problem, FisherPrice hired CIR Electrical Construction Inc., a Buffalo, N.Y.based contractor, to install a Pace Weather-Based Heat Control System, manufactured by General Electronic Enterprises Inc., Rahway, N.J., and about 1,800 feet of electric baseboard heaters around the perimeter zone of the building. The baseboard heaters were manufactured by American Stabilis Corp-, Lewiston, Maine, according to CIR president George Schlemmer.

Schlemmer said that the total installed cost of the project was about $137,000, with equipment accounting for about $100,000. Installation was completed in time for the 1984-85 heating season, he added.

The 280 kw of controlled baseboard heating has cut Fisher Price's electricity bills between 30 and 40 percent, and allowed the firm to remove an aging 600 kw boiler, Schneider said.

The boiler had delivered hot water to heat exchangers in the ductwork, which, in turn, delivered warm air to overhead diffusers located around the perimeter walls.

The system used only outside air temperature as a reference point, regardless of indoor temperatures and solar gain, and was unresponsive to the wide temperature variations caused by air currents inside the building's atrium. Warm air from the diffusers was almost immediately swept up upward by the "chimney effect" of the atrium, he explained.

Consequently, areas that need the most heat received the least, and vice versa, he noted.

"Between the overall building design and warm air's natural tendency to rise, the bottom portion of the windows received no heat, creating drafts around the perimeter," Schneider explained. "The only way to make the work areas near the perimeter walls comfortable in winter was to overheat the building's core areas."

The Pace system uses outdoor sensors to measure not only the air temperature but to determine the effects of wind, rain and solar heat, as well. Based on data from the outdoor sensors, the master control panel calculates the building heating requirements and adjusts power to the baseboard heaters, according to Jerry Muhlenberg, General Electric Enterprises national sales manager.

Muhlenberg explained that if the building requires no heat at 60 degrees outdoor air temperature, then 60 degrees becomes the building's "balance point. " The Pace system supplies just enough heat to match the heat loss of the building envelope and allows the system to maintain a thermal barrier around the perimeter, he explained.

NOTE: As a corporate policy, the Fisher Price Division of the Quaker Oats Company neither endorses nor verifies the performance of any product or service supplied to the Fisher Price Division by an outside vendor.



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