What is a fan coil?
A fan coil unit (FCU) is a stand-alone indoor heating and cooling unit that is not typically connected to ductwork. Fan coil units can control individual rooms’ temperature or connect to ductwork to serve multiple spaces. Some fan coil units are paired with air conditioners, heat pumps, or furnaces. Fan coil units are ideal climate control units for condos, apartments, offices, and hotel rooms.
How do fan coil units work?
An on/off switch or thermostat controls the fan coil unit’s functions. A fan inside the unit draws in air from the indoor space. Some units allow the
introduction of fresh air from outside, too. The incoming air passes through a filter and flows across the unit’s coil. Refrigerant or cold/hot water circulates through the coil to heat or chill the air. Some units use electric heat strips for heating. The fan blows the conditioned air out of the system and back into the indoor space.
Types of Fan Coil Units
Four types of fan coil units are:
- Concealed horizontal ceiling mounted
- Exposed horizontal ceiling mounted
- Vertical floor/wall mounted
- Underfloor horizontal mounted
Concealed Horizontal Ceiling Mounted
This fan coil is mounted above the ceiling, so the unit is hidden. Air flows through grilles in the ceiling and ducts connected to the unit. Concealed ceiling-mounted units are generally quieter than exposed units.
Exposed Horizontal Ceiling Mounted
Exposed ceiling-mounted units are hung below the ceiling and are visible. These units can utilize grilles and ducts to distribute air or blows directly from the unit.
Vertical Floor/Wall Mounted
This fan coil is mounted vertically on the floor or a wall near the floor. It draws air through a grille on the bottom of the unit and blows the conditioned air upwards through a grille on the top.
Under Floor Horizontal Mounted
This rare style of fan coil is mounted under the floor. Air flows through grilles and ducts connected to the unit.
Advantages of a Fan Coil
- Cooling and heating functions.
- Ability to separately control room temperatures.
- Requires less space than ducted units.
- Flexible installation positions and locations.
- Cheaper and easier installation than ducted units.
- Air does not mix with air in other spaces.
- Cools and heats rooms quickly.
- Dehumidifies rooms.
- No harmful fuel emissions.
- Easy to maintain and replace.
- Efficient if well-maintained.
Fan Coil Vs Air Handling Unit
A fan coil is a stand-alone unit that cools, heats, and circulates air indoors. An air handler unit (AHU) is an HVAC system component that moves air through a house’s ductwork after it has been cooled or heated by an air conditioner or heat pump.
A fan coil unit (FCU) is a stand-alone heating and cooling unit that does not require ductwork. Fan coil units are incredibly versatile. They can control the temperatures of individual rooms, connect to ductwork to serve multiple rooms, and be paired with air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces for supplemental heating and cooling. Fan coil units have many applications, including houses, apartments, condos, offices, and hotel rooms.
The fan and the coil are the main components of a fan coil unit. The fan draws in air from the space, the coil cools or heats, and the fan blows the treated air back into the area. Refrigerant, cold water, or hot water circulates through the coil to raise or lower the temperature of the air passing over the coil.
Fan coils provide heating and cooling, don’t require ductwork, are cheaper and easier to install than ducted units, and can be used in a single room or connect multiple rooms. On the downside, fan coil units can be noisy, unsightly, and produce dry, stale air.