Regardless of where it’s installed an HVAC system is designed to modify the climate in every square inch of the indoor space it covers. Of course, this challenge is much greater if that space has massive horizontal or vertical sprawl, as is often the case with commercial, industrial or public venues.
But commercial HVAC systems don’t just work harder than their residential counterparts. They also work differently and must do so if they are to provide effective indoor climate management in locations where the nature of the challenges to be overcome is too steep.
The designers and manufacturers of commercial heating and cooling equipment face some diverse and daunting challenges. In response, they’ve had to modify a steadfast and dependable technology without altering its capacity to produce impressive results.
Commercial vs. Residential: The Tale of the Tape
Let’s briefly summarize the characteristics of both commercial and residential heating and cooling systems so the differences become clear.
Commercial HVAC Systems
Structure: Commercial HVAC equipment comes in large, self-contained, pre-packaged cabinets that include the compressor, the condenser and condenser fan, the evaporator and all the drainage system components.
Location: Commercial systems are usually installed on rooftops, which eliminates any possibility of noise pollution inside the building.
Heating or cooling capacity: Rather than being manufactured to specific dimensions, commercial HVAC systems are modular in design. This means extra heating/cooling elements can be added to boost the power of the system when necessary.
Exhaust ventilation: Special components are added to the system to handle the heavy responsibility of exhaust ventilation in power-packed commercial units.
Moisture collection and drainage: Commercial HVAC units produce copious amounts of moisture through condensation. They need extensive drainage systems to pipe it away for disposal.
Residential HVAC systems
Structure: Most residential HVAC units use split-system technology. An indoor unit holds the evaporator coils and the blower, while an outdoor cabinet contains the compressor and the condenser coils.
Location: Part indoor/part outdoor, at ground level outside and on the first floor inside.
Heating or cooling capacity: Residential HVAC systems come in specific sizes and cannot be expanded or contracted. Their heating and cooling capacities are locked in at the time of manufacture.
Exhaust ventilation: Exhaust is released through windows or into crawl spaces, or directly into the air outside.
Moisture collection and drainage: A simple pan is used to collect the moisture indoors, after which it can be drained away for outside release.
In the HVAC industry size doesn’t really matter
As you can see, the principles behind HVAC technology are the same no matter where it is installed. The massive scale needed in some commercial settings creates a special set of demands, but commercial equipment has been modified to meet them in some very clever and inventive ways.