What Are the Different Types of Commercial HVAC Systems

Jan 14, 2024

When looking at different types of HVAC systems for commercial buildings, there are a lot of points to consider. There are many different types of HVAC systems for commercial buildings and commercial HVAC contractors to choose from.

Commercial HVAC Systems

Many people use heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, but they are not one size fits all. These systems are designed to control indoor environments by regulating factors such as temperature, humidity, ventilation, pressure, and removing smoke.

While HVAC all have a similar goal in mind, many different types of systems may be used in commercial units whether it be for offices, schools, hotels, or other larger facilities. These different types of commercial HVAC systems include single-split systems, multi-split systems, central air conditioning, ductless mini-split air conditioning, variable air volume systems, variable refrigerant flow systems, constant air volume systems, chillers, and heat pumps.

9 Different Types of Commercial HVAC Systems

When looking at what are the different types of commercial HVAC systems, there are nine key systems to consider:

  • Single-Split System

    A common type of HVAC system for commercial buildings is a split HVAC system. There are two types: a single-split system and a multi-split system. As the name suggests, these systems contain both indoor and outdoor components. Single-split systems are designed for smaller spaces such as cafes, shops, and office spaces.

    • Advantages of Single-Split System

      One of the biggest advantages of single-split systems is its affordable installation. It’s perfect for small spaces, self-contained, and is energy efficient. This is also a great choice for rooms needing an additional HVAC system.

    • Disadvantages of Single-Split System

      There is one major drawback to single-split systems. Since internal units also require supporting external units, they may take up a lot of space.

  • Multi-Split System

    Multi-split systems are also made up of both internal and external units. However, they are designed to accommodate the use of several multiple internal units with only one external unit. This type of system is better suited for larger commercial spaces, such as retail stores and larger medical facilities.

    • Advantages of Multi-Split System

      Since multiple internal units can be used with just one external unit, this type of split system is less space-consuming. This also allows for a more visually appealing exterior of the building and no ductwork is required for installation.

    • Disadvantages of Multi-Split System

      Unlike single-split units, multi-split units may cost a lot of money to install. In addition to the greater cost, the installation process also requires more pipework to be done, therefore leading to a longer installation process.

  • Central Air Conditioning

    Central air conditioning is commonly associated with its use in residential homes, it can also be used in commercial spaces. This type of HVAC system also uses ductwork to move air through the space and remove moisture.

    • Advantages of Central Air Conditioning

      This is another affordable energy-efficient way of air conditioning a space.

    • Disadvantages of Central Air Conditioning

      This system is mainly designed for residential use, and while it can be used for some commercial spaces, it has its limitations. This may only have the ability to be an effective system for smaller commercial spaces such as small cafes or restaurants.

  • Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioner

    Ductless, mini-split air conditioners are made up of an interior and exterior unit, connected by electrical cabling and refrigerant tubing. There are single-sone and dual-zone variations of this type of system.

    • Advantages of Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioner

      The interior unit is designed to provide the heated and cooled air directly into the space. This means ductwork is not required for installation. Additionally, there are variations for a single-zone system and a dual-zone system.

    • Disadvantages of Ductless, Mini-Split Air Conditioner

      While single-zone systems can still be on the more affordable end – ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 – dual-zone systems usually range around $5,500 to $9,000. The single-zone systems are only good for single small spaces.

  • Variable Air Volume (VAV) System

    Variable Air Volume, or VAV, systems use a single duct-supply and return setup with varying airflow. This allows the system to keep temperatures at set points.

    • Advantages of VAV System

      This type of commercial HVAC system is perfect for multi-room spaces. Different areas of the building are heated and cooled separately. For example, if the building contains multiple office spaces or classrooms, people in each of those rooms can make different adjustments to the system to fit their preferences for that room.

    • Disadvantages of VAV System

      VAV systems are designed to create varying temperatures in multiple rooms – not for single spaces.

  • Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) System

    Variable Refrigerant Flow, or VRF, systems are also sometimes referred to as Variant Refrigerant Volume systems. As the name suggests, these systems use a refrigerant for heating and cooling. They move these refrigerants to the target area that needs to be heated or cooled.

    • Advantages VRF System

      These systems are known to be very effective and energy efficient. They can also be used in many different commercial spaces – even mixed-use spaces.

    • Disadvantages of the VRF System

      This type of system may not work properly in bigger indoor facility spaces.

  • Constant Air Volume (CAV) System

    Constant Air Volume, or CAV, systems use compressors to achieve certain temperatures in a space. These systems work best for facilities that require remaining at the same temperature for extended periods.

    • Advantages of CAV System

      This type of system is simple and is constantly flowing. It is great for maintaining temperatures for long amounts of time.

    • Disadvantages of the CAV System

      CAV systems are always running, leading to higher energy costs in spaces, even if they do not need the highest airflow. Additionally, these systems are great for maintaining certain temperatures but not for humidity control.

  • Chillers

    Chillers are often used for commercial HVAC needs. They come in two vapor compression types: air-cooler chillers and water-cooler chillers. Air-cooler chillers remove heat exchanger-produced heat from the atmosphere and water-cooler chillers chill water refrigerant in a water-cooled chiller.

    • Advantages of Chillers

      Some of these chillers, such as absorption water-cooled chillers, require very little electricity. It also can be used as a heat source refrigeration system in central air conditioning systems within mid and large-sized buildings.

    • Disadvantages of Chillers

      If the system is bought new and not second-hand, the purchasing cost and installation fees can be expensive.

  • Heat Pump

    Heat pump systems include both an outdoor unit for the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit for the evaporator and a fan. Heat is drawn for the outdoors and is transferred inside when heat is needed. This process is reversed if cold air is needed.

    • Advantages of Heat Pump

      Heat pumps are known to be affordable and very energy efficient. Both heating and cooling can also both provided within a single system.

    • Disadvantages of Heat Pump

      If there are extreme temperature conditions, such as extreme heat or extreme cold, this type of system may need help to do the job.

How to Select the Right Commercial HVAC Systems for Your Building?

After looking at the different types of HVAC systems for commercial buildings, there are some final factors to consider. These include:

  • Cost of installation

    It is important to compare different HVAC systems and see which best fits your budget. Each system is different.

  • Air quality

    Different HVAC systems may produce different air qualities and require different downtimes. Be sure to compare these factors too.

  • Size of the building

    Not all HVAC systems will work efficiently in both larger and smaller buildings. Make sure the system you choose is a good fit for the building it will be installed in.

  • Climate of the local region

    The external climate is also important. Make sure that you are choosing an HVAC that can function well in the local climate and will still be able to control those conditions inside the building.

  • Specific needs of the business

    Whether a factory with extreme control that is necessary for one large area or a building of individualized office spaces, the needs of every commercial building are different. Make sure the HVAC system you choose can accommodate those needs.

  • Energy efficiency

    Some HVAC systems require more energy use than others. It is also best to compare different systems and see which is the most productive for your needs while consuming the least amount of energy.

Professional Commercial HVAC Contractor in Oklahoma

The best way to choose the ideal system is to speak with one of the professional commercial HVAC contractors with experience in the field. One way to do that is to go online and search “commercial HVAC company near me.” Professional contractors, such as those at Rescue Heat & Air, have the professional knowledge and skillset for dealing with commercial HVAC maintenance, repair, replacement, contracts, and inspections. 

Based in Claremore, Oklahoma, Rescue Heat & Air prides itself on providing clients with quick and professional solutions, with knowledge of all of the current industry trends. Call 918-946-6681 and find your ideal commercial HVAC solution today.