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The Different Types Of Commercial HVAC Systems Explained

10/06/2021

You’re in the process of building a commercial property. As such, you’re looking into commercial HVAC systems. The question you have, however, is: what are the different types of commercial HVAC systems?  There are quite a few types of HVAC systems commercial buildings can utilize. Let’s discuss them all in detail below!

Variable Refrigerant Flow System

Perhaps the most sophisticated commercial HVAC system is the variable refrigerant flow system. This system is comprised of a series of heat pumps, each of which is positioned in a different area of the building. These heat pumps have the ability to provide both cold and heat, allowing them to adapt easily to the changing weather. 

Unlike many HVAC systems, this one doesn’t require a duct system. Instead, because the heat pumps are positioned in different areas, they can deliver air throughout the entire building directly. 

The interesting thing about a variable refrigerant flow system is that it utilizes just a single condenser. This condenser is connected to all of the heat pumps and is able to regulate the amount of refrigerant that it sends to each. As such, this system is able to adjust temperatures in different rooms of the building, all the while using just small amounts of energy. 

In truth, this commercial HVAC system is the cream of the crop. It might be a little more expensive than some of the other options but, thanks to its energy efficiency, it will help cancel out some of those initial costs over time. 

Variable Air Volume System

A variable air volume system is similar to a variable refrigerant flow system in that it’s able to accommodate different temperatures in different rooms throughout its corresponding building. However, it differs in the way that it does this. 

See, this system doesn’t have different heat pumps set up in a variety of different areas. Instead, it makes use of a series of ducts. Like a standard central AC, it sends air through these ducts from a single location point. 

However, unlike a central AC, it’s able to alter air levels at its starting point, utilizing mechanisms known as dampers. The more a damper is open, the colder (or hotter, depending on the season) its corresponding room will be. The less it’s open, the warmer (or colder, depending on the season) its corresponding room will be. 

Dampers are controlled by zoned thermostats. These thermostats are set to desired temperatures, which then indicate to the dampers how open they should be.

Variable air volume systems are highly efficient, though not quite as efficient as variable refrigerant flow systems. That said, they’re cheaper to install, and therefore might be a better option for you. 

Ductless Mini Split System

The next type of unit that we’re going to discuss is the ductless mini-split system. This is an HVAC system that mounts to the interior of a room’s wall. On the opposite side of its interior blower exists a condenser, allowing it to work its magic in a compact area. 

The great thing about ductless mini-split systems is that they’re cheap and easy to install . . . provided that you only use one or two of them. However, if you’re installing, say, 8 ductless mini-split systems, you’re going to be spending an excessive amount of both time and money. 

A common complaint about ductless mini-split systems is that they’re visible on the inside of the building. In other words, those walking through your building will be able to see them protruding out of your walls. That said, they’re fairly aesthetically pleasing, and won’t do much to impair the overall aesthetic of your property; just think of them as an alternative to vents. 

It’s important to note that every ductless mini-split system is a self-contained unit. It has no connection to the other units installed throughout the building. This can be bad in that they require more overall energy in order to run; however, it can also be good in that they allow for precise temperature variations from room to room. 

If you have a small commercial property, a ductless mini-split HVAC might suit you fine. For anything on the bigger side, you’re advised to choose a different option. 

Rooftop Units

The last type of HVAC system you should know about is the rooftop unit. Rooftop HVAC units are comprised of both a condenser and a blower. They’re attached directly to the top of the building’s roof and are connected to a duct system below. 

As these units produce air, they push it down into the ducts, which then deliver it to different rooms throughout the building. In this sense, they’re like central ACs in residences. 

It’s important to note, however, that a single rooftop unit isn’t always able to accommodate an entire building. If your building is on the large side, you’ll need several of these units to get the job done. The ideal buildings for these types of HVAC units are on the small side. 

Curious as to how outdoor weather might affect a rooftop unit? In general, it doesn’t. These units consist of heavy-duty steel, which protects internal components against rain, snow, and wind-throw objects. 

For more information on rooftop HVAC units, give us a call! 

Learn More About the Different Types of Commercial HVAC Systems

In truth, we’ve only discussed the highlights of the different types of commercial HVAC systems. There’s much more to learn about the many types of HVAC systems commercial properties utilize.

If you’re looking to learn more, give a call to the commercial HVAC contractors here with Industrial Mechanical Contractors, Inc. Ours is one of the top commercial HVAC companies in Pennsylvania, and we know everything there is to know about installing commercial HVAC systems. 

Contact us now to start the discussion or to receive a free quote! 

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