Stuck in a stack - Temperature measurements of the microclimate around split type condensing units in a high rise building in Singapore

Marcel Bruelisauer, Forrest Meggers, Esmail Saber, Cheng Li, Hansjürg Leibundgut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The use of air-conditioning, the largest energy demand for buildings in the tropics, is increasing as regional population and affluence grow. The majority of installed systems are split type air-conditioners. While the performance of new equipment is much better, the influence of the microclimate where the condensing units are installed is often overlooked. Several studies have used CFD simulations to analyse the stack effect, a buoyancy-driven airflow induced by heat rejected from condensing units. This leads to higher on-coil temperatures, deteriorating the performance of the air-conditioners. We present the first field measurements from a 24-storey building in Singapore. A network of wireless temperature sensors measured the temperature around the stack of condensing units. We found that the temperatures in the void space increased continuously along the height of the building by 10-13 C, showing a significant stack effect from the rejected heat from condensing units. We also found that hot air gets stuck behind louvres, built as aesthetic barriers, which increases the temperature another 9 C. Temperatures of around 50 C at the inlet of the condensing units for floors 10 and above are the combined result, reducing the unit efficiency by 32% compared to the undisturbed design case. This significant effect is completely neglected in building design and performance evaluation, and only with an integrated design process can truly efficient solutions be realised.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Air-conditioning
  • Condensing unit
  • Energy efficiency
  • Field measurements
  • Heat rejection
  • High-rise buildings
  • Split units
  • Temperature rise
  • Tropical climate


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