Having adequate heating and air conditioning in your commercial building is essential, and this is true no matter what type of business you run. Sizing a commercial HVAC system and determining what type of system will be most effective can be extremely complicated. Here, we’ll give you an overview of what all this involves to help you understand the importance of choosing a knowledgeable, experienced commercial HVAC contractor.

Determine the Total Size of the Space

The first step is to calculate the total size of the conditioned space, i.e. every room and space in the building that the HVAC system will be heating and cooling. There are general recommendations as to how many BTUs per square foot an HVAC system needs to produce to effectively heat or cool a commercial building. However, these recommendations are based on a building with 8-foot ceilings. Many commercial buildings have at least a few areas with higher ceilings. This will increase the BTU requirements since higher ceilings mean there is a greater volume of air that needs to be heated or cooled. High ceilings especially impact heating requirements since the heat from the HVAC system will rise and settle near the ceilings.

Another factor in terms of space is the average size of all of the rooms in the building. A commercial building that mostly has smaller rooms will typically have slightly lower heating and cooling requirements compared to a building with lots of large rooms or open spaces. The reason is that an HVAC system can usually heat or cool smaller spaces more quickly.

Consider Climate and Temperatures

The local climate is another important consideration when sizing a commercial HVAC system. The main thing you need to consider is the difference between your desired indoor temperature and the typical outdoor temperatures during both the hotter and colder parts of the year. Places with milder weather will obviously have lower heating and cooling requirements. Commercial buildings in Illinois typically have fairly high heating and cooling needs since we experience both freezing winters and hot, humid summers.

Decide What Type of HVAC System Will Work Best

You’ll also need to have an HVAC company help you determine what type of system will work best for your building’s specific needs. If all of the rooms are a similar size, a standard central HVAC system with either a furnace and air conditioner or a heat pump should work just fine. If you have rooms that are much different in size or that have different cooling and heating requirements, a zoned system is likely the better option. This type of system breaks the building up into different zones that are each independently controlled by their own thermostat. This enables you to set a different temperature for each zone. It also ensures that the system will be able to fully heat and cool each zone to the desired temperature. As such, you won’t have to worry about different parts of the building being hotter or colder than you want.

Another popular option for some commercial properties is to install ductless mini-split systems. This type of system has an air conditioner or heat pump outside that is connected to multiple indoor units located in each room. This is an especially good choice for offices since it allows each person to keep their office at whatever temperature they wish without impacting the rest of the building. Mini-split systems are primarily used for cooling. You could use a mini-split heat pump system for heating. However, you’d also need some type of additional heat source since heat pumps aren’t always effective enough on their own to heat a building in a colder climate.

Other Important Factors When Sizing a Commercial HVAC System

There are also a range of other factors that can determine your heating and cooling needs and thus what size and type of HVAC system will work best. One important factor is what the building is used for and what type of equipment it contains. For instance, a building with a commercial kitchen will obviously have much greater cooling requirements than an office or retail building. The same is true if the building contains lots of equipment and electronics that give off heat.

Another important factor when calculating cooling requirements is building occupancy since people give off quite a bit of heat and humidity. The more people there are in the building on a daily basis, the greater the cooling requirements will be.

How many windows there are in the building and which direction they face also impacts both heating and cooling requirements. Sun streaming into the building through windows creates quite a bit of heat gain during the day. That means a building with a lot of windows will typically have higher cooling requirements and slightly lower heating requirements than a building with very few windows. A similar factor in this regard is the building location and whether it receives a lot of direct sunlight or is mostly shaded.

Your Trusted HVAC Professionals

There are so many different things that affect what size and type of HVAC system a commercial building needs. This is why it’s essential that you hire an experienced HVAC company. At Allegiance Heating & Cooling, we’ve been helping both commercial and residential customers in the Mokena area with all of their heating and air conditioning needs since 1999. We also provide indoor air quality assessments and solutions. If you need to install a new commercial HVAC system or upgrade your existing system, contact us today to get the expert advice and assistance your business needs.

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