Your comfort has a lot to do with an HVAC system. Knowing the difference between commercial and residential HAVC systems will help you know what you can expect from each one. Whether you’re at work or at home you’ll know what’s going on.
Main Differences Between HVAC Systems for Residential & Commercial Buildings
1. HVAC System Sizing. Commercial systems cover a great deal more square footage and provide comfort for a greater number of people. For that reason, they need to be more powerful than their residential counterpart. Variables such as square footage, number of occupants, peak usage hours and efficiency all play into the sizing of a particular system. These are all higher in a commercial setting and require more power.
2. HVAC Unit Location. Most commercial HVAC systems are placed on rooftops due to their large size. It’s more practical to place smaller residential systems next to the house due to structural features and dimensional space. Rooftop placement of commercial systems saves space because space comes at a premium. It offers greater security against potential tampering and operation noise is much lower with rooftop placements. It also makes maintenance less disruptive as it won’t interfere with normal business operations.
3. Complexity of HVAC System. Residential systems are not as complex as residential systems. Residential systems typically have eight standard and straightforward components whereas commercial systems must be able to adapt to more in order to provide comfort. They often have many more zones to control as occupancy and activities vary during different times of the day or night. Commercial systems also require more advanced exhaust systems.
4. HVAC Drainage. The drainage system for a residential system is smaller and uses a single pan placed outside the home. Drainage becomes more complicated with a commercial system, requiring multiple pipes and pans. This is necessary for complete evaporation and overflow prevention. For these reasons, these systems require more dimensional space.
5. HVAC Equipment. Residential units have a split system setup where heating, cooling and humidity are controlled with two components: an indoor evaporator and an outdoor compressor -additional components are not required. The opposite is true for commercial systems. These include dampers, blowers, thermostats and other systems to properly control all the zones within a building regardless of the time of day.
6. HVAC Maintenance Costs. Commercial systems are more complex when it comes to maintenance. There is more maintenance needed at the start of each seasonal phase to ensure optimal operation. They also need more monitoring. The additional maintenance, sizing and complexity make commercial HVAC maintenance more expensive.
How Much Does a New Commercial HVAC System Cost
The estimated cost of a basic, commercial rooftop HVAAC system will depend on the capacity of the unit, the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating,) the quality and brand, optional system features and climate and location. Higher quality systems are more efficient, but the initial cost will be offset due to longer warranty costs, lower maintenance costs, and lower operating costs.