Your commercial building is only as good as your HVAC system!
Canadian business owners and property managers should never overlook their commercial heating and air conditioning units; they keep their people comfortable by improving air quality and regulating temperatures. Whether it’s an office building, restaurant, hotel, or retail store, high-quality HVAC can make a huge difference.
Understanding the fundamentals of your commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is essential if you want to make informed decisions, reduce energy costs, and maintain its condition for years to come.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or new to HVAC management, this resource will equip you with everything you need to know about commercial HVAC basics.
|Everything You Need to Know About Commercial HVAC Systems|
Each of the components that make up your HVAC system—heating, ventilation, and air conditioning—work together to maintain a comfortable indoor air temperature and air quality year-round.
Let’s briefly dive into each of these elements and discuss how they contribute to the overall operations of your HVAC system.
Furnaces, boilers, or heat pumps handle heating in an HVAC system. After being signalled on by the thermostat, their fuel source—be it gas, water, or electricity—delivers heat to the heat exchanger to create hot air, which it then distributes accordingly.
Maintaining a comfortable and safe environment for occupants, preventing frozen pipes, and preventing structural damage depends on heating.
Ventilation involves the exchange of indoor and outdoor air to maintain quality and provide a continuous supply of fresh air. A ventilation system filters and circulates air, removing pollutants, odours, and excess moisture.
Proper ventilation supports occupant health, reducing the risk of indoor air quality-related issues like allergies and respiratory problems. It also helps control humidity and prevent buildup of harmful substances, such as mould and carbon dioxide.
Air conditioning systems draw in warm air and direct it toward their evaporator coils filled with refrigerant, which cools it down. This cooled air then travels to the air handler, where a blower disperses it through the ductwork.
Air conditioning is essential for maintaining a comfortable temperature, reducing heat-related discomforts, and preventing equipment and electronics from overheating.
Selecting the right commercial HVAC system depends on factors like building size, layout, energy efficiency goals, and budget. It’s essential to to consult with HVAC professionals to determine the most suitable system for your specific commercial space prior to making any decisions.
The table below evaluates the most common types of industrial HVAC systems, their characteristics, and recommended use.
|Type||Defining Characteristics||Recommended Use|
|Single-Split Systems||➡️ Split into single indoor unit (furnace or air handler) and single outdoor unit (condenser)
➡️ Controlled by single thermostat
➡️ Simple and cost-effective
|☑️ Perfect for small commercial spaces such as individual offices, small retail shops, or server rooms where a single room or zone requires heating and cooling
☑️ Requires ductwork
|Multi-Split Systems||➡️ Multiple indoor units are connected to a single outdoor unit
➡️ Reduced outdoor footprint
➡️ Allow for zoned temperature control
|☑️ An excellent choice for medium to large commercial spaces, including restaurants and office suites
☑️ Requires ductwork
|Packaged Rooftop Units (RTUs)||➡️ All HVAC components packaged into a single unit
➡️ Compact system, making them easy to install and maintain
|☑️ Frequently used for single-storey commercial spaces, such as retail stores, restaurants, and small office buildings
☑️ Requires ductwork
|Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF)||➡️ Allow for zoned temperature control
➡️ Two types: Heat Pump VRF (for heating or cooling) and Heat Recovery VRF (for heating and cooling simultaneously)
➡️ Highly flexible and energy efficient
|☑️ Best for medium to large commercial buildings with varying cooling and heating needs, such as hotels, hospitals, or mixed-use developments
☑️ Requires ductwork
|Air-Source Heat Pumps||➡️ One outdoor unit with one or more indoor units
➡️ Provide both heating and cooling
➡️ Allow for multi-zone temperature control
➡️ Cost-effective and energy efficient
|☑️ Small commercial spaces
☑️ No ductwork required
|Boilers||➡️ Uses fuel to heat a fluid that is pumped through a hydronic heating system
➡️ Heated fluid is distributed through radiators or in-floor heating loops
➡️ Zoning capabilities
|☑️ Recommended for large commercial spaces, such as warehouses, factories, hotels, and healthcare facilities that require a high heat output
☑️ No ductwork required
A well-informed assessment of your commercial HVAC needs will help you select the most appropriate system, optimize energy efficiency, and ensure your commercial space remains comfortable year-round. Here are the top considerations to help you assess your HVAC requirements:
Sizing and capacity matter when choosing an industrial HVAC system, as systems that are too small or too large won’t run efficiently—they’ll just run up your bills. Measure the square footage of the area that needs climate control and consider the layout, including open spaces, separate rooms, and high-ceiling areas. This information will guide you in determining the type and capacity of the HVAC system required.
|Example: You’re the owner of a small restaurant. Your establishment has a total floor area of 2,000 square feet, with a dining area and an enclosed kitchen. The dining area is open with high ceilings, while the kitchen requires efficient ventilation and cooling due to heat generated by cooking equipment.
In this example, by analyzing the size and layout of your restaurant, you’ve determined that a combination of HVAC solutions is necessary to meet the distinct needs of different areas within the same building. This tailored approach ensures efficient climate control for your specific requirements, whether it’s maintaining a pleasant dining atmosphere or providing a comfortable workspace for kitchen staff.
💡 Read more: How to Calculate What Size of HVAC Unit You Need
When installing an industrial HVAC system, you also need to consider the need for zone-specific temperature control. Assuming you want this, you will need to install dampers and programmable thermostats to manage temperatures.
When evaluating commercial HVAC zoning possibilities, we recommend implementing the following to ensure the best results:
The geographical location of your business is an important factor to consider. Certain types of commercial HVAC systems won’t perform well in freezing conditions while others will excel. Check local climate data and consider variables like seasonal temperature extremes, humidity levels, and the number of heating and cooling days.
Take into account the number of people who occupy your commercial space and their activities. Spaces with high occupancy density, like restaurants or conference rooms, may require additional ventilation. Poor air quality affects productivity and can make guests uncomfortable, so ensuring air quality in commercial HVAC systems is a non-negotiable.
Also, consider whether your business operates during extended hours, as this affects HVAC usage and energy consumption.
💡 Read more: Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality
Efficiency is at the heart of a well-managed commercial HVAC system. Maximizing energy efficiency not only reduces operational costs, but also minimizes your environmental footprint.
Here are the HVAC basics when it comes to sustainability:
When shopping for industrial HVAC units, always look for the ENERGY STAR certification label. Their blue star logo signifies a product has met strict energy-efficient guidelines set by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. Approved models are designed to help you save money and energy while reducing your carbon footprint.
Some HVAC systems are equipped with variable speed compressors and fans to adjust their output to match the current cooling or heating demand, which saves energy compared to fixed-speed systems. Additionally, more advanced models can recover waste heat, using it to warm other parts of your building or for water heating, increasing overall efficiency!
Strategies for Reducing Energy Consumption
1. Efficient Ductwork and Insulation
Leaky ducts and poor insulation can lead to energy waste. Inspect and seal ducts, and improve insulation in your commercial space to reduce energy losses and enhance HVAC performance.
2. Install Programmable Thermostats
Set temperature schedules that align with occupancy patterns. This prevent unnecessary heating or cooling when your space is unoccupied.
3. Conduct Regular Maintenance
Scheduled maintenance, including filter replacement and system checks, keeps your HVAC system running efficiently.
💡Read more: Why Is Energy Conservation Important?
You should always leave the installation and maintenance of commercial HVAC systems to the professionals. Proper care is paramount for the performance and longevity of your unit.
Here’s what you can expect from professional industrial HVAC installation at LG Home Comfort:
Regular maintenance and preventative care significantly extends the lifespan of your HVAC system, making it less prone to breakdowns and costly repairs.
Of all the HVAC basics a business owner needs to know, this is one of the most important.
Scheduled, professional HVAC maintenance can improve air quality, maintain your system’s warranty coverage, reduce your energy consumption, energy bills, and carbon emissions, and prevent unexpected breakdowns.
As with installation, commercial HVAC maintenance should be left to the professionals due to their specialized training and industry expertise. DIY efforts often lack the knowledge required to perform thorough inspections, diagnose complex issues, and calibrate equipment effectively. Professionals possess a deep understanding of HVAC systems, ensuring they can identify and rectify problems before they escalate. They also have access to the right tools and equipment to maintain safety and performance standards.
By prioritizing professional and consistent maintenance, you’ll secure the long-term performance of your commercial HVAC system, fostering a productive and energy-efficient workspace.
Business owners need to stay on top of these common commercial HVAC issues to prevent disruptions in operations, discomfort and inefficiencies from happening.
It’s no secret that commercial HVAC units are expensive, with prices ranging from $6,000 to $50,000. This variability is based on several factors:
The good news is that commercial HVAC systems are built to last a minimum of 15 years. This can easily be extended to 20 years and beyond with regular maintenance.
Ontario offers several rebate programs that can help subsidize the initial upfront cost of your energy-efficient commercial HVAC systems.
Now that you understand the value of professional maintenance and installation, you’re probably wondering how to evaluate HVAC companies. Selecting the right service provider is critical for the long-term health and efficiency of your HVAC system, so we recommend you choose one based on the following factors:
Licensing & Certification
You want the best of the best when it comes to installing and maintaining your commercial HVAC system. A license, bond, and insurance will give you peace of mind that they know what they’re doing. You can also check for certification from industry organizations as a sign of expertise and professionalism.
References & Reviews
Ask for references from past clients and read online reviews. Positive feedback and a strong reputation are indicative of a trustworthy contractor.
We recommend choosing an HVAC company with a proven track record of working on commercial HVAC systems. Experience with similar systems to yours is a valuable asset.
When it comes to your commercial HVAC needs, trust the expertise of a family-owned HVAC company with a legacy of excellence.
At LG Home Comfort, we’re proud to be a Canadian-owned and operated business with decades of experience in the industry. Our dedicated team specializes in serving the unique requirements of commercial buildings, ensuring optimal climate control and energy efficiency.
We do everything—from property assessment to custom design, installation, maintenance and repairs—so that you can focus on what you do best; running a business. As one of the most reliable HVAC companies in Ontario, it’s our mission to always be available, 24/7/365, so that your operations aren’t impacted by unforeseen equipment breakdowns.
Don’t compromise on the comfort and performance of your commercial space, call LG Home Comfort today to learn more about our commercial HVAC services.
A commercial HVAC system includes cooling equipment (air conditioner, chillers), heating equipment (furnace, boiler), ventilation components (air handlers, exhaust fans, ductwork), control systems (thermostats, building automation systems), air filtration and purification (air filters), refrigerant lines and components, zoning equipment, dampers and louvers, pumps, valves, and piping.
Choose an HVAC unit based on your business needs and commercial space requirements. Usually, small businesses use single split systems, while large corporations will use variable refrigerant flow systems. Our team can help you choose the right one!
Business owners can save on energy bills and lessen consumption by switching to energy-efficient industrial HVAC systems. These products are designed to use less energy to deliver heating and cooling for buildings efficiently. To learn more, refer to the HVAC basics on energy ratings and certifications in this guide.