Air conditioning systems are a crucial part of any commercial building. Not only does it provide invisible comfort to your customers, this technology also contributes to the efficiency and productivity of your employees and in maintaining the good quality of your goods or products.
Types of Commercial HVAC System
There are many types of specialized HVAC systems used in commercial buildings. The following are the most common:
Variable Air Volume (VAV) – probably the most basic type of commercial HVAC, VAV features a single duct air system with varying airflow. The air temperature can be controlled according to the heating or cooling demands of the season, or even reset based on the air temperature outdoors. It also involves features like humidity and temperature control.
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) – an energy-saving option, VRF systems make use of a condensing unit connected with multiple evaporators. This reduces the energy required to heat up or cool the building. Consequently, less energy is wasted to the outdoors.
Fan Coils (FCU) and Blower Coils (BCU) – These systems are consisted of a terminal unit that gives off heat or cool air. A fan coil unit is composed of an internal fan, a heating coil, and a cooling coil. It can be noisy as it is installed within or close to the space.
Split System Air Conditioning – these are the most affordable types of air conditioning systems and are suitable for small commercial buildings, such as offices, shops, and cafes. Split-type ACs can be installed in different rooms but they require a large external space as each indoor unit requires one outdoor unit. Multi-split air conditioning systems are also available. They are similar to the standard split type but depending on the model, you can connect up to nine indoor units to one outdoor unit.
Why Size Matters
Among the major differences between a residential and a commercial HVAC system are the size and power usage. Commercial heating and cooling equipment undergo heavy use throughout the year. Determining the size required for your commercial space requires more than calculating the actual footage of the building. Oversized equipment is just as problematic as undersized equipment is. Only an experienced professional can provide an accurate size requirement for the HVAC system to ensure that even the furthest reaches of the building are all equally comfortable.
The Efficiency of HVAC Systems
Investing in energy-efficient HVAC systems is one of the best decisions you could ever make as the business owner. Why? Because it can save you money on your electricity bills. You can actually save nearly $1.70 per square foot over the lifespan of your equipment than if you will use a less-efficient HVAC system. Energy use still accounts for the largest operating expense in commercial establishments.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Commercial HVAC System
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)
The efficiency of a central air conditioning system is determined by the SEER. It is the ratio of the total cooling capacity over the total electric energy during a certain time period (usually 12 months). Generally, the higher the SEER, the less electricity the equipment needs to function.
Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
Furnaces are rated using AFUE, which is the percentage of heat generated per energy used (rated in dollar). The general rule is the higher the AFUE, the lower your fuel costs. So, for instance, a heater that has AFUE of 70% will convert 70% of its fuel into usable heat while the remaining 30% is wasted through either air leaks, inefficient burners, or poor equipment design.
Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)
HSPE measures the efficiency of heat pumps. It is determined by the estimated seasonal heating output over the amount of energy that it consumes in watt-hours. It is a seasonal measure because heat pumps are rarely used in optimal levels during spring and fall). A higher HSPF is considered more efficient than a heat pump with a low HSPF.
Air filtration systems play a key role in maintaining a good indoor quality of any commercial building. There are different kinds of air filtration units. They include air cleaners and air purifiers. Often, these devices make use of powerful fans that facilitate air circulation and a filter that captures fine particles and pollutants that may be inhaled by the building occupants.
Other HVAC Features
Before selecting the best HVAC system for your business, there are a few more factors that should be considered. These include the extent of your temperature control needs. Furthermore, cooling and heating systems are often sold separately. Choosing packaged systems to improve efficiency by bringing them together in a single cabinet. This system is worth considering especially if you have limited space and you need both an air conditioning unit and a furnace in one room or area.
Hiring the Right HVAC Contractor
It is important to choose the contractor based on their experience, expertise, and reputation. Only deal with certified HVAC contractors in your area. You can check the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) website for a list of accredited HVAC companies. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a good place to double check their consumer ratings. The website will show whether they have received complaints from previous customers.
It is also important to check if the contractor has the necessary paperwork and credentials to work on commercial projects. These include:
- Licensing – depending on where your commercial property is located, the HVAC contractor may be required to obtain federal, state and local licenses. These include a certificate of passed exams and technical HVAC training.
- Bonding – each project requires a contract surety bond as your protection against unfair dealings, along with some kind of kind of financial insurance in case something goes wrong.
- Worker’s compensation insurance – this is needed in case a worker gets injured while working on your property.
Don’t skimp when it comes to your commercial HVAC system. Consult professional HVAC specialists to determine the right system for your building so you can create a space that is healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient.