What is Commercial HVAC and Why Do You Need It?
Commercial HVAC installation can be a complex process but choosing the right system doesn’t have to be so complicated. By identifying your business’s specific needs, you take a big step in determining what system will work best for you.
Read on to learn about the different commercial HVAC systems, how they work and how metal fabrication is a key part of commercial HVAC installation.
Commercial vs. Residential HVAC
To say that commercial heating and cooling systems are different from residential systems is an understatement. To begin with, commercial systems must perform at a greater capacity to cover the heating and cooling requirements of a larger building space.
There are 6 main differences between commercial and residential HVAC systems, as follows:
- System size. Homes are smaller than commercial spaces, so the HVAC system can have a smaller capacity. An HVAC unit that is not powerful enough for the size of the space it needs to work in, will have to work harder to produce the desired results, which will in turn lead to an increase in utility costs.
- AC placement. Residential systems are usually found in the back or side yard of a home. Commercial HVAC units are generally placed on the roof of the building due to the size and noise level.
- System complexity. One of the biggest differences between residential and commercial HVAC units is their complexity – depending on the type of business they are servicing; commercial HVAC units will have more components.
- AC mechanism. In a residence, cooling occurs within the unit and is then distributed through vents to different areas. In a commercial system, cool water is produced in the chillers and moved to air-cooling coils within a system of pipes throughout the building.
- Maintenance needs and cost. Since commercial HVAC systems are larger and more complex, the need for yearly maintenance is more important to prevent costly repairs.
- Drainage requirement. Residential HVAC systems typically drain to a single pan located outside the home. Commercial systems, due to their size and complexity, require multiple pans and pipes to route moisture away from the system without causing damage.
The 6 Types of Commercial HVAC Systems
HVAC systems are not a one-size-fits-all deal. Some consideration needs to be given to businesses differing needs. For the commercial sector, there are 6 types of HVAC systems in common use.
The single-split HVAC system is used in smaller spaces like bakeries and shops. It’s compact, easy to install and includes both the air conditioning and furnace components, alongside an evaporator coil for air circulation. This is an affordable and energy-efficient option for small businesses but it does require dedicated indoor and outdoor space.
This type of HVAC system is like a single split system, except that it has multiple indoor appliances connected to a single outdoor unit through a series of pipes.
You can usually find multi-split systems in shared spaces, such as buildings that have multiple businesses or enclosed offices operating out of them. Multi-split systems need less space and don’t have ducts, but if the outside unit fails, all the units will fail.
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF)
This type of system is often found in larger spaces, like hotels or department stores. There are two subtypes of the VRF system: heat recovery and heat pump.
Heat recovery systems can provide both heating and cooling at the same time, which is the best option in spaces that are divided into smaller rooms. Heat pump systems can provide both heating and cooling, but they can’t provide them both at the same time.
This type of VRF system works best in large places with an open floor plan. VRF systems are extremely reliable, compact and quick to install, but they come with a higher installation cost.
Constant AIR Volume (CAV)
This type of HVAC system provides a temperature-controlled, but constant, airflow rate. This degree of consistency means that the CAV system is ideal for places that require a high degree of air circulation. These systems are becoming outdated, however, as they are getting replaced by newer systems with better energy consumption and control.
Variable Air Volume (VAV)
This type of HVAC system uses either a compressor or a variable-speed fan. Where spaces require varying heating and cooling, the compressor will regulate the flow of refrigerant to ensure consistent temperatures. VAV systems are a newer technology and are a popular choice to replace older CAV systems, but they come with a high installation cost and take up a lot of space.
Industrial Evaporative Cooler
This isn’t technically an HVAC system, but it offers the same commercial air conditioner capability with different technology. Industrial evaporative coolers blow hot air over moistened pads to cause evaporation. This evaporation lowers the temperature of the air by at least 20 degrees, meaning that these units are capable of cooling large spaces, with a greater lifespan and less maintenance.
What’s Involved in the Installation of Commercial HVAC Systems
Installing an HVAC system in your business is a multi-step process no matter which system you go with. As well as choosing the best option for your needs, there are a few other things you will need to address, including:
- Load capacity. The system size must meet the needs of your business.
- Available space for the condenser. You’ll need to find a suitable place for the condenser unit to be housed.
- Assessing ductwork. Any existing HVAC ductwork installation will need to be assessed for functionality.
- Budget. You’ll need to consider the unit and installation costs, as well as maintenance costs.
- Zone creation. Ductless systems will require zone creation.
- Planning the installation. You will need to draw up an installation plan with your contractor.
Businesses That Require HVAC
The term “commercial HVAC” applies to any business that may need heating and cooling, but there are some businesses for which HVAC is essential due to the requirement for varying temperatures and airflow.
Some commercial locations where you would expect to find complex commercial HVAC systems include:
- Office buildings
- Retirement and Extended Care Homes
Commercial HVAC and Sheet Metal Fabrication
Sheet metal fabrication goes hand in hand with commercial HVAC installation, since sheet metal is used in the creation of the ducts and pipes required to transport air around the building.
HVAC Installers and fabricators like South Island Mechanical, use aluminum, galvanized steel or stainless steel to customize and create individual components for commercial HVAC systems. In cases where extensive pipes and ducts are required, custom sheet metal fabrication is less expensive than buying prefabricated components.
Commercial HVAC Fabrication and Installation from South Island Mechanical
If you’re looking at adding an HVAC system to your business premises, South Island Mechanical can work with you to find the right solution.
Based in Langford, BC, and serving businesses across Vancouver Island, South Island Mechanical can support your business through the entire HVAC process from planning, to fabrication and expert installation.
Contact us now to start your HVAC journey.