At its core, an HVAC system is supposed to change the climate within whatever type of building it is installed. This, of course, is easier said than done when your space is larger — whether horizontally or vertically. Commercial, industrial, or public buildings will of course have more sprawling spaces than private residences — unless you’re incredibly rich!
A commercial HVAC system isn’t just bigger and more expensive than a home HVAC system, it also works somewhat differently. This is because of the difference in size between the spaces to be affected, as well as the unique challenges present in each commercial space.
Commercial HVAC equipment usually arrives in very large self-contained cabinets which include the compressor, condenser, condenser fan, the evaporator, and drainage. Such large pieces of equipment will typically only be able to be installed on rooftops lest they deafen everyone within earshot. If you’ve ever had a noisy home HVAC, turn that up to 11 and that’s what it’s like being near a commercial HVAC unit. While these units are self-contained they’re also quite often modular — meaning parts can be added to increase heating or cooling capacity as needed. Naturally, this adds a great deal to the complexity and expense for each individual unit.
Despite these differences, the process by which heating or cooling are achieved are still fundamentally the same as for home HVAC units. For a heat pump or generic heating system, this is how it would go:
A heat pump extracts the heat from the air (or water) and uses it for heating. The cooling cycle is the normal refrigerant process. Common air to air heat pumps have the compressor and condenser in an outside unit. Then the refrigerant piping goes to an inside air handler unit which houses the expansion valve and the evaporator. During very cold weather, the heating side of the heat pump won’t be able to pull enough heat from the outside air, so electric back-up resistive heaters are required. A separate system must be installed to bring outside air into the space. Heat pumps usually have one thermostat for the entire heat pump zone.
So, almost exactly the same as a residential heat pump but blown up to a massive scale. While it’s overall a simple system, it still needs to be well-maintained to function efficiently. When it isn’t functioning efficiently, such as during very cold weather, the following things can happen:
- High energy consumption — back-up heaters are more expensive to run than relying on refrigerant process. So not only are you spending on running the heat pump, you’re spending on making it usable.
- Potential illnesses — a poorly-working heat pump means colder temperatures for your commercial space. It’s very easy for productivity to plummet when your workers are too cold!
- Heat pump damage — the refrigerant process depends on the refrigerants in the heat pump changing states back and forth from gas to liquid. If that doesn’t happen properly the refrigerant can degrade, making everything more inefficient and further damaging the rest of the system.
Luckily all those issues can be mitigated by proper maintenance from professionals such as Level One HVAC. If you’re a business owner looking for an HVAC company to fulfill all of your heating system needs, Level One HVAC would be glad to help. We are a fully licensed, insured, and certified company specializing in commercial HVAC services all year round. We take our experience and training a notch further by ensuring that all necessary certifications are in place so you don’t have to worry about equipment and compliance issues.
You can call us at 248-486-6500 or visit our contact form on the website to know more about the different HVAC services we provide.