Things to Consider When Installing a Commercial HVAC System
by The Cooling Company, on Feb 11, 2019 9:24:28 AM
When you’re operating a business in and around Las Vegas, you rely on your building’s air conditioning system, especially during those scorching summer months. The last thing you want is for it to break down in early August when temperatures are in the three-digit range for weeks at a time.
Perhaps, last summer you noticed that the premises weren’t as cool as they should be, making your employees and customers uncomfortable and increasing your overhead. Or maybe you’re moving operations into a brand new facility and it’s time to put in a commercial HVAC system. In either case, there are financial and performance-related advantages when your system is customized to meet your climate control needs.
The advantages of a new system
Thanks to advances in heating and cooling technology, the financial and environmental advantages of a new commercial HVAC system outweigh any initial upgrade costs. For example:
- You’ll enjoy reliable indoor temperatures. Older systems can lead to temperature inconsistencies within the building. Do some of your employees have personal desk fans while others store extra sweaters in their desk in mid-July? A new system won’t completely solve air flow issues (which is what causes one room to be colder than another) but having an HVAC Specialist check for air flow issues before installing a new system will prevent these types of issues from happening again.
- Your employees will be healthier. Have you ever heard of ‘sick building’ syndrome? Older HVAC systems and unclean ductwork can circulate dust and other debris through the air, leading to sick days and lowered productivity. Having someone clean the ductwork before installing an HVAC system will solve this problem.
- Your employees will be more comfortable. People have a more difficult time being productive when they’re too hot or cold. When temperatures are comfortable, you can potentially save $2 per employee per hour in productivity costs.
- Your energy bills will lower. Today’s systems are designed for energy-efficiency. Your utility bills will go down, leaving you with more money to put back in the business.
- Your business will be ‘greener’.If your company is already recycling and cutting down on paper, a more energy efficient HVAC system is the next logical step in projecting your image as an environmentally-responsible business.
- Maintenance costs are lower. In general, the cost of maintaining a new commercial HVAC system is significantly less than an older unit.
Now that we’ve got you convinced, there are several factors that you need to consider for your commercial HVAC installation. Nevada weather makes heavy demands on your heating and cooling system, and these areas of consideration can help ensure that your new installation is up for the challenge.
Commercial properties can take up a lot of power to meet their cooling and heating needs. To prevent energy waste and short cycling, you need the right size equipment for your company premises. The larger your facility, the greater the chance that you may need more than one HVAC system.
An experienced HVAC technician will carry out a load calculation to determine the right size and/or number of units for your building. This process evaluates all the property’s characteristics to determine how much cooling and heating will be needed to meet your comfort requirements.
There are several types of HVAC systems used in commercial buildings today, many of them different from those used in residential applications. Here is a summary list of the various options that may suit your needs, depending on your building size and configuration.
- Single-split systems are popular choices for small offices, shops, cafes, server rooms, and other smaller spaces. They consist of interior and exterior units connected by a copper pipe. The indoor unit cools or heats ambient air using an appropriate heat exchanger while the outdoor unit dissipates the heat and lets refrigerant flow back into the indoor unit.
- Multi-split systems consist of several indoor units connected to one larger outdoor unit. They are often used in places with multiple floors, large rooms, and/or different climate zones. A higher-capacity air conditioner can be installed in a product showroom while smaller and quieter ones run in your office and the reception area. This allows you to control the temperature in the building on a room by room basis.
- Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) or variable refrigerant volume (VRV) systems is a heat pump that uses refrigerant in the cooling and heating lines. Multiple evaporators connect to one condensing unit. These systems are common in medium to large spaces and come in two varieties: heat pump systems that provide either heating or cooling and heat recovery systems capable of both heating and cooling.
- Variable air volume (VAV) or constant air volume (CAV) systems use a setup with a single-duct supply and return and use varying airflow or constant airflow to keep temperatures at set points. These systems are often seen in single-zone buildings and are less expensive to install than some others.
The geographical position of your building may provide it with unique heating and cooling capabilities. Sometimes this was done intentionally. One common example is passive solar design, which uses exposure to the sun’s rays to heat and cool spaces. Other design strategies include roof positioning and window positioning.
If your building experiences a heating or cooling effect from its geographical position, the HVAC system you install should be chosen with the effect in mind.
Internal Temperature Factors
Some commercial locations have internal processes that have a noticeable effect on the ambient temperature. For example, if your building contains a kitchen or a manufacturing area where machines generate heat, those zones are going to have higher temperatures than the dining or reception areas, making zone-controlled systems more appropriate than a centralized heating and cooling source.
The equipment you install has to be the right size for your commercial space. In this instance, sizing doesn’t refer to the actual physical dimensions of the unit- it is the process of assessing your heating and cooling needs and finding a system with a functional capacity that can meet them.
If the system you select is too small, it will have to be run continuously to keep the premises cool, which will raise your energy costs and even incur repair charges if it breaks down under the strain. On the other hand, if it’s too large, the building will cool too quickly and speed up the on and off cycle, making it impossible to dehumidify the air sufficiently.
To determine the correct size, you need to consider factors such as:
- Building size
- The building’s layout and thermal characteristics
- Your personal comfort preferences
You can control the size of the HVAC system needed (and therefore your installation and energy costs) by installing energy-efficient doors and windows and ensuring that the building is properly insulated.
An energy-efficient HVAC system will lead to high savings on your electricity bill. To identify the most cost-effective solution, check the following ratings for each unit being considered:
- EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, is a ratio derived from dividing a system’s cooling output (measured in Btu, or British thermal units) with the energy used in watt-hours. For example, an air conditioner with a 12,000 Btu that uses 1,200 watts of electricity has an EER of 10. The higher the EER, the more energy-efficient the system is. In Nevada, minimum EER rating is 12.2 for units less than or equal to 3.5 tons and 11.7 for systems equal to or more than 4 tons.
- SEER: Seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, indicates the energy-efficiency of air conditioners and heat pump cooling functions. The higher the rating, the more efficient the equipment is. Air conditioners in the U.S. are required to have a SEER rating of at least 14, so a rating of 15 and up is regarded as a high-efficiency system. Those with the highest ratings have SEER numbers in the mid-20s.
- HSPF: The heating seasonal performance factor, or HSPF, deals with the heating processes of HVAC heat pumps. A high-efficiency system will have an HSPF of at least 8.2.
- AFUE: Annual fuel utilization efficiency, or AFUE, covers heating system efficiency ratings of heating systems. It indicates how much energy in the fuel used by the system is transformed into usable heat. The higher the number, the more efficient the system. For example, a furnace with an AFUE of 90 turns 90% of its fuel into heat.
- Energy Star: Designed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Star rating verifies a product’s energy efficiency. Any HVAC system marked with its logo has met a series of strict requirements during testing by a neutral third party.
The Condition of Your Ductwork
Before installing a new HVAC system, confirm that your ductwork is in good condition, as aged or inefficient ducts can leak up to 20% of cooled air. An HVAC technician can check your duct system and advise whether renovations, improvements, or adjustments are necessary before your new system can be installed. Older buildings, in particular, may need brand new ductwork while a remodeled or renovated commercial property could need custom ductwork for the HVAC system design to be ventilated properly.
If there is no centralized ductwork in your building, you’ll need to decide whether you want to invest in ducts or install a ductless system.
Once you confirm your budget for the installation, start collecting estimates from local HVAC service providers. Each one will include the price of both installation materials and labor. Ask for a detailed breakdown so that you can compare costs for the following categories of the install:
- Ductwork and piping
- System startup
While cost is an important consideration, remember that it’s not the only one. Many business owners automatically select the lowest estimate to save money on upfront costs, only to find themselves spending more money in the long run because the resulting system or installation did not meet their needs. When you work with an HVAC company that helps you properly size your system and provide one that delivers maximum energy efficiency, you will save more and avoid unnecessary future expenses.
Indoor Air Quality Needs
For many businesses, indoor air quality is an important factor when choosing an HVAC system. Cleaning chemicals, paint fumes, and even allergens such as dust can all lead to employee illness and diminished productivity. Other examples of special air quality needs include:
- Special humidity maintenance
- Special temperature maintenance
Get Ready for Summer!
These factors are only some of the determinants that can guide your final decision. Once you select and install a new commercial HVAC system, one of the best ways to leverage its energy-efficiency is to use a smart thermostat. These controls, which are highly versatile and sophisticated these days, can prevent energy from being wasted by allowing you to set daily, weekly, or even weekend usage schedules.
At The Cooling Company, we can show you additional ways to get the most out of your purchase for many hot summers to come, so be sure to ask.