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  • Writer's pictureBenison Services

How Is Commercial HVAC Different From Residential?

Maintaining Commercial HVAC Differs From Residential

When it comes to commercial HVAC and residential HVAC, they are both alike about as much as a bull and rooster. A bull and a rooster are both males of two different breeds. Commercial and residential HVAC both cool and heat a structure, but different sizes of structures.  

What are the different components of a commercial HVAC system? 

Yes, a commercial HVAC system and a residential HVAC system have some of the same parts, but those in a commercial HVAC unit are heavier duty for an obvious reason: It has to cool and heat more area. Those key parts in a commercial system include:

1. Air Conditioner

2. Compressor

3. Condenser

4. Thermal Expansion Valve

5. Air Handler which includes the blower and evaporator coil

6. Terminal Units

7. Chiller

8. Duct System

What are some factors with a commercial HVAC system that should be considered?

There is a lot to think through when you choose to have a new commercial HVAC system installed, including the following: 

  • The Space Size

It takes a lot of power to cool and heat commercial properties, so you want a commercial HVAC system that is energy efficient.  That doesn’t mean you buy the largest system possible. Instead, you may need to have several commercial HVAC systems installed in the building.

  • The System Type

What types of HVAC systems are most commonly used for commercial spaces? Many commercial or residential structures have HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. They are designed to control the environment indoors. Where a commercial HVAC system differs from a residential system, in addition to controlling the temperature, it also controls humidity, pressure, ventilation, and smoke removal. There are 3 different types of commercial HVAC systems which are: 

  • Single-split Commercial HVAC System

  • A single-split commercial HVAC system connects an indoor component to an outdoor component. It is the least expensive, which contributes to it being the most common. This type of commercial HVAC system works particularly well for a structure with several small rooms that allow the occupants to control the temperature in each room independently.  

  • Multi-split Commercial HVAC System

  • A multi-split commercial HVAC system takes up less space outside. This type of system connects multiple indoor components to a single outdoor component, allowing for the indoor components to be better managed. There are options for a multi-split commercial HVAC system to connect as many as 10 indoor components to a single outdoor component. This type of system uses inverter technology which allows the compressor to run at various speeds with each indoor component having a separate setting.

  • VRF or VRV Commercial HVAC System

  • A VRF system (variable refrigerant flow) or VRV (variable refrigerant volume system is a more advanced type of commercial HVAC system. While VRF and VRV are the same, the two acronyms are used interchangeably Both can connect several indoor components to a single outdoor component, much like the multi-split system. The difference is during the cooling process of these commercial HVAC systems, they capture the heat absorbed from the air and redirect the heat to other areas of a structure when it is needed.   

  • This is the most expensive of the three different types of commercial HVAC systems, but where customized cooling and heating in several zones are required, it is an ideal solution. Commonly found in factories, office buildings, and restaurants. 

  • The Building Position

Cooling and heating can be affected by geographical position. A commercial structure is considering passive solar design, where the structure gets the most sun exposure is considered.  It can also depend on whether a rooftop system is best or window units and where to position them. 

  • Internal Temperature 

Some commercial structures have internal processes that can make an obvious effect on the internal temperature of the building, like a kitchen or a manufacturing zone. Both of these generate heat, while the dining area or reception area needs to remain comfortable and cool. A zone-controlled commercial HVAC system would be better suited.

  • The System Size

The commercial HVAC equipment you choose needs to match the size of the space it will cool and heat, but not the physical dimensions. This is the technical side and an experienced commercial HVAC technician can assist you in choosing the proper size. They will consider the building, layout, size, thermal characteristics, and personal preferences.

  • The Efficiency

Just like at home, you want the commercial HVAC system to be the most energy-efficient possible. The factors that will tell you this include: 

  • EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio.

  • SEER –  Seasonal Energy Efficiency.

  • HSPF – Heating seasonal performance factor

  • AFUE – Annual fuel utilization efficiency.

  • Energy Star – A Environmental Protection Agency certification.

  • The Ductwork

If you’re installing a new commercial HVAC system, you need to have the ductwork inspected. It may need to be cleaned, repaired, or completely replaced. Poor air ductwork can allow as much as 20% of the cooled or heated air to escape.

  • Indoor Air Quality 

  • Indoor air quality is more important for some businesses than others, like a company that uses cleaning chemicals or expels paint fumes that have allergens like dust that can affect employees’ and clients’ breathing. Some businesses need special humidity and special temperature settings. 

  • The Thermostat

In addition to the factors that we have mentioned, if you’re upgrading your current commercial HVAC system, upgrade the thermostat too, choosing a smart thermostat. 

How is a commercial HVAC system maintained? 

You’ll be in a better position to take a maintenance contract out with the company that installs your unit, or you can hire it out twice a year. The technician will perform the following steps: 

  • Change or clean the air filters every 30 days. 

  • Do a visual inspection of the System including the outdoor component.

  • Re-Calibrate the commercial HVAC system twice a year. 

  • Check, clean, and clear drainage lines.

  • Clean the AC evaporator and condenser coils.

What are the most common problems with commercial HVAC systems? 

As long as you keep the twice-a-year professional service schedule, you’ll have less chance of these things happening: 

  1. Not cooling or heating.

  2. Utility bills have increased.

  3. The indoor air quality has worsened.

  4. Unexplained noises and sounds.

  5. The commercial HVAC system is unresponsive.

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