In a city not known for its subtlety — Las Vegas — the world’s tallest Ferris wheel still manages to stick out as it glows 550 feet about the brightly lit Las Vegas Strip.
Twenty-eight glass-enclosed pods, each weighing 44,000 pounds and surrounded by 300 square feet of glass, move less than a foot per second. A full rotation takes a half hour.
Caesars Entertainment, which spent years designing the High Roller, as the attraction is called, knew the wheel could have trouble attracting riders if it forced them to swelter in the 100°F-plus southern Nevada summer temperatures as it rotated.
Air Innovations of North Syracuse, N.Y., was tapped to design the HVAC system for the pods that would keep the wheel’s estimated 1,100 riders cool. The company hired Luvata to make the evaporator and condenser coils.
“The air-conditioning system designed by Air Innovations was very complex,” said Paul Guariglia, a field sales engineer with Luvata’s heat transfer solutions division. “And Air Innovations made it happen. Luvata appreciated the opportunity to work with Air Innovations, providing products and technical support, on this unique project.”
Considering that each pod can hold up to 40 people, they created a system made to increase or decrease cooling capacity to match the load. Each pod’s HVAC system used two compressors, with the evaporator and condenser coil connected independently to circuits with a 50/50 split.
The load on the pods in the desert climate is tremendous, said Air Innovations President Michael Wetzel.
“The air-conditioning system in designed to turn on and off circuits,” Wetzel said. “It’s comparable to having multiple systems operating independently of each other. The amount of cooling required inside each cabin is two to three times that of a typical house.”
The system performed well, officials said, surviving its first Las Vegas summer.
“When people are riding the High Roller Ferris wheel, our job is to ensure the climate-controlled environment doesn’t distract from their experience,” Wetzel added. “As temperatures approach 100 degrees in Vegas and riders remain captivated with the amazing view of the strip, we’ve done our job.”