How to Choose A New Commercial HVAC Unit

In our last post, we talked about whether you should repair or replace your commercial HVAC, how preventative maintenance can extend its useful life, and how you can evaluate the need for replacement. 

If the time has come for replacing your commercial HVAC, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a new system for your business. A commercial HVAC system should be selected based on your building size and configuration, how it’s used, and your needs — first. Expense, though obviously important, should be secondary to these factors because sacrificing on system quality or efficiency is ultimately going to lead to increased costs in other ways down the road. 

As a facilities manager, this is a decision that’s important you get right the first time. Here are a few considerations to get you started. 

System Types

The best type of HVAC system for your business depends on the size and configuration of your building and how the system will be used.

In this post, we discussed system types in-depth, but here’s a recap:

Single-Split – Ideal for small businesses like coffee shops and standalone retail stores.

Multi-Split – Ideal for larger spaces like doctor’s offices, restaurants, and larger retail spaces.

VRV & VRF – Ideal for hospitals, office buildings, and hotels.

CAV & VAV – Ideal for stadiums, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses.

Internal Temperature

How you use your commercial building will significantly impact the type of system you need. For example, warehouses don’t have a lot of temperature fluctuation so it’s easier and more affordable to maintain temperatures with a CAV or VAV system. In a large restaurant kitchen or in a packed convention hall, it’s going to get hot, so it’s more important to have an efficient system with zone control that can quickly regulate the temperature within specific areas. 

Indoor Air Quality

Ever heard the term “sick building syndrome?” When employees and customers complain of respiratory symptoms, dizziness, nausea, or fatigue, and feel generally unwell when they’re in a building, the indoor air quality could be the cause. Poor air quality can be caused by inadequate ventilation or filtration, chemicals, or mold and mildew. A well-maintained HVAC system that provides adequate heating, cooling, ventilation, filtration, and humidity control can often help SBS. 

Efficiency

As HVAC technology evolves, systems are becoming more and more energy-efficient. A more efficient HVAC will save you money on heating and cooling costs. 

When shopping for an energy-efficient HVAC, these are the terms you should know:

  • EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio is a ratio of the cooling output of an HVAC (measured in BTUs) to the input of electricity needed (measured in watts). The higher the EER, the more efficient the system. 
  • SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is similar to EER except that instead of being calculated under a standard condition (i.e. 95 outside, 80 inside, and 50% humidity), it is calculated in a standard cooling season as an indicator of how well the system will perform to cool as the seasons change. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system is.
  • HSPF: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor is similar to SEER except it rates the performance of the heat pump in a heating season. The higher the rating, the more efficient the system is. 
  • AFUE: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency calculates the amount of heat that a furnace produces for every dollar of fuel it consumes. The higher the number, the more efficient the system.
  • Energy Star: the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating verifies that an HVAC system meets strict requirements for energy efficiency. 

Cost

As mentioned earlier, cost should be a secondary consideration after you figure out what your business needs for comfort and efficiency. It’s a good idea to get estimates from multiple commercial HVAC contractors, but it’s important to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. The estimate will usually separate labor and equipment, but be sure it also includes a more detailed breakdown of what’s included in the equipment, detailed costs about the controls such as thermostats, sensors, or automation software, and the cost of any new or replacement piping or ductwork. Finally, be sure the estimate and installation includes a detailed systems startup inspection and ask for a copy of the inspection checklist.

And remember, the lowest price is not always the best. Stay tuned for our next post where we discuss how to choose a reliable commercial HVAC company so you can be sure the job is done right, the first time. 

Brands

As with any commercial equipment or systems, brand matters. There are a few trusted brands in the industry that have withstood the test of time and earned customer loyalty due to dependable equipment, long-lasting systems, affordable and easy-to-find parts, and outstanding warranties.

Lennox – Leader in energy-efficiency and dependability. 

Trane – Unbeatable warranty (10 years) with durability suited to industrial uses.

Carrier – Sizes and types for every business, reliable and long-lasting.

Rheem –  High-tech systems and controls and excellent warranty.

Of course, there are many other commercial HVAC brands on the market. A good HVAC company will give you options and help you select a brand based on your needs and the features and functions you want.

Let Us Partner You With A Reliable Commercial HVAC Contractor

When you’re ready for a commercial HVAC replacement, Trillium Facility Solutions has a networked of vetted commercial HVAC contractors ready to serve you. Our trusted local technicians will assess your new HVAC needs and can help provide recommendations for the best system for your needs and budget. 

Get in touch with any of our amazing team members who are standing by ready to serve! Call (844) 818-5713 to learn more. 

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