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How Do Commercial HVAC Non-Chemical Devices vs. Chemical Water Treatment Methods Compare?

March 2022

With more and more non-chemical water treatment devices coming to the market, you may be considering this as an option in lieu of traditional chemical water treatment systems. Let’s take a quick look at the advantages these systems can offer, what factors should be considered, and what we recommend as a water technologies provider.

Pros to non-chemical devices:

  1. Lower environmental impact

  2. All upfront capital costs

  3. No onsite chemical handling

Cons associated with non-chemical device use:

  1. Tendency to forget about it and not maintain system

  2. Does not work for all LSI (Langelier Saturation Index) systems (ie hard water, many public municipality water systems). The quality of the water where there are successes with NCD is very specific.

  3. Not ideal for systems with special considerations or needs

  4. Less flexible to changing needs or water quality

  5. Risk of bacteria not being eliminated

  6. Increase costs for increased, daily electrification needs

  7. There are many real-world examples of scaled towers/chillers from NCD’s

Overall recommendation:

We tend to find these systems either do not work or are unreliable for most of our clients’ needs. The DMV area does not have soft water, and facilities with special needs or considerations generally need customized water treatment solutions, due to temperature fluctuations to air passing in the system to other variables within their system, including age, nearby construction, changes in building use/different tenant needs, and so on.

For many facilities, the risk of bacteria and microbial growth remaining if all the conditions are not met for non-chemical devices to work is not a risk they are willing to take. From hospitals to hospitality and commercial buildings, the risk of Legionella developing is the foundation for unhappy tenants and potential lawsuits.

Non-chemical devices are equipment that need to be maintained, calibrated, and monitored. They are subject to wear and tear. They come in at a much higher cost than traditional systems and dry chemical feed systems. Since these devices are less common, contractors providing maintenance and service of these devices may be harder to find and charge higher service rates. Chemicals and labwork are still needed to verify systems are performing as intended. If a system is not, the investment can be a large financial loss. The need for regular, daily electrification also adds to the building’s energy consumption and costs.

We are happy to look at your system, provide an analysis, and present you with different options based on your specific needs, concerns, goals, and budget.

Looking for more articles on water treatment for commercial HVAC buildings? Here's an article on Legionella.


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