Commercial heating and cooling systems differ to residential solutions in numerous ways, primarily because commercial HVAC systems need to be larger and more powerful than those used in households. For example, a single split system may not be suitable for a high-rise office block or industrial commercial AC unit. However, such a solution may be perfectly fine for small commercial businesses, such as restaurants, shops, and individual offices within a building.
Deciding which type of commercial HVAC systems to purchase can be challenging, which is why you might benefit from hiring an HVAC contractor to determine your needs. Qualified HVAC specialists will bear in mind your space’s dimensions, climate, insulation, energy regulations, running costs and a range of other factors to recommend the most suitable commercial HVAC system for you.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at light commercial HVAC units, many of which are similar or identical to residential solutions. If you have any questions or want to know how commercial HVAC systems work, you can always give a heating and cooling contractor a call or arrange a site visit.
The Different Types of Light Commercial HVAC Systems
The most popular types of light commercial HVAC solutions include:
Single Split System
Single split systems are one of the most affordable commercial HVAC systems for small buildings, which is why they’re a popular choice. They’re suitable for shops, restaurants and buildings with several rooms and small offices as they allow you to control the temperature in individual spaces.
You control these commercial HVAC systems using a control panel or thermostat, which you should position away from doors and drafty areas. Your single split system will likely consist of an air conditioner and a furnace evaporator coil, and circulates air using a system of ducts.
There are two primary benefits to using single split units as commercial HVAC systems. First, they’re more affordable large central systems, and second, they’re self-contained. One unit can fail while the others remain functional.
However, every indoor commercial AC unit requires the installation of an outdoor unit, which can take up space on your property, especially if you need many units.
Not all packaged units can be considered ‘light’ commercial HVAC systems. However, because they can weigh anywhere between three and 25 tons, there may be a lighter option that’s suitable for your requirements.
In addition to size, packaged commercial HVAC systems differ in the features they provide. For example, heavy systems (12.5 to 25 tons) usually have a horizontal downflow to cover large areas and control airflow. Light commercial AC units (three to 10 tons) include a gas or electric air conditioner or heat pump, or a combination of both. Others can provide commercial heating as well as cooling.
Almost all package units come with durable scroll compressors to ensure they work efficiently, though routine maintenance is a requirement. Often, packaged units are more expensive to run than single split systems, but because all components are stored in one unit – usually on your roof – they’re beneficial if you need to save space while still accessing the power of commercial HVAC systems
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Also known as ground source heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps are highly efficient because they concentrate existing heat rather than produce it, making them a renewable source of energy. They’re becoming increasingly popular in small commercial buildings and households across the US.
The temperature beneath the Earth’s surface remains relatively constant throughout the year, colder than the air above ground during summer and warmer in winter. A geothermal heat pump transfers the heat stored underground into a small commercial space during the winter and extracts heat back into the ground during summer. In other words, the surface beneath the earth acts as a heat sink during summer and heat source in winter.
Geothermal pumps can also provide hot water. Because this technology is relatively new, initial installation costs can be high. However, as a renewable source of commercial heating and cooling, they can reduce your running costs in the long run while helping you protect the environment.
Is Light Commercial HVAC Right for You?
The most straightforward way to determine which commercial HVAC systems you require is to call a contractor to assess your needs. You may assume because you operate in a high-rise building, light commercial HVAC systems are not an option. However, there are plenty of high-rise residential blocks that don’t feature a large-scale, centralized HVAC system, requiring individual condominium owners to purchase a small HVAC solution. The same may apply to individual companies with just a few office rooms in a large commercial building.
Learn More about Commercial Heating and Cooling
You undoubtedly want to keep your running costs to a minimum, which means you should purchase commercial HVAC systems that have an ENERGY STAR label, proving they comply with EPA regulations. Moreover, it’s essential to remember that all HVAC solutions lose efficiency over time, making annual maintenance and even periodic duct cleaning crucial. If you have any questions about light commercial HVAC systems or want to discuss your options with a qualified contractor, don’t hesitate to give us a call.