Commercial HVAC

How Does a Commercial HVAC System Work?

Commercial buildings have unique climate control challenges compared to residential spaces. Whether you’re a business owner, facility manager, or curious tenant, you may wonder how commercial HVAC systems work. Heating, air conditioning, ventilating, and humidifying a large space is complicated, but this guide should give you the information you need.

What is Commercial HVAC?

The purpose of any HVAC system is to:

  • Heat or cool, depending on the season, to maintain a comfortable temperature of around 72 degrees.
  • Ventilate the space to remove contaminated air, reduce odors, and keep carbon dioxide levels below 1,000 parts per million (PPM).
  • Add or remove humidity, depending on the season, to keep the relative humidity between 40 and 60 percent.

Commercial HVAC systems accomplish these goals on a large scale to keep offices, restaurants, hotels, warehouses, and other commercial buildings safe and comfortable.

How Does Commercial Heating and Cooling Work?

Controlling the climate in a commercial building requires three things:

  • Energy source: Gas-fired burners, hot water systems, and electricity are commonly used to heat commercial buildings. Refrigerant-based and water-cooled systems powered by electricity are common cooling methods.
  • Distribution method: Mechanical systems circulate air throughout the building, often using ductwork. Operating on the principle that warm air rises helps maintain a steady temperature.
  • System controls: Commercial buildings tend to have programmable thermostats that operate on an automated schedule, similar to residential HVAC systems. However, commercial HVAC may also have more advanced controls for better energy efficiency, maintenance tracking, and reliability.

Commercial HVAC System Configurations

Heating and cooling systems in commercial applications are designed according to the building’s size, layout, and function. The three main configurations include:

  • Packaged systems: These all-in-one units contain everything required to heat and cool the space. One example is a packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC), the wall-mounted unit you see in hospitals and hotel rooms. Another is a rooftop unit (RTU), a common type of packaged system installed on flat commercial roofs.
  • Split systems: A popular and affordable option for smaller commercial buildings, a split HVAC system includes an indoor and outdoor unit, similar to a residential air conditioner. Multi-split systems are ideal for mid-sized buildings, allowing up to nine indoor units to link up with a single outdoor unit. This improves efficiency and comfort while maintaining a small equipment footprint on the building’s exterior.
  • Variable refrigerant flow systems: VRFs work best in mixed-use buildings where heating and cooling may be needed simultaneously. These ductless systems use heat pumps or heat recovery systems to send refrigerant to indoor units based on how hot or cold each building zone becomes. This sophisticated operation allows for maximum comfort and efficiency.

The next time you need residential or commercial HVAC services in Lexington and Columbia, SC, turn to AAA Heating & Air. Our qualified technicians have years of experience installing, repairing, and maintaining a range of HVAC systems for homes and businesses. We promise to provide excellent products, crystal-clear prices, and top-notch customer service. Call us today at 803-653-6163 or contact us online to learn more.