What is HVAC?
Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are responsible for heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings. Some HVAC systems also perform additional functions, such as purifying the air in your office, diluting indoor air contaminants with fresh outdoor air, and even maintaining humidity levels. HVAC systems are a great way to maintain a comfortable indoor environment year-round – and they can last for years if you take care of them properly.
Components of an HVAC System
It’s vital to understand the essential elements of most HVAC systems before you can determine what type might be best for your business. These components function both to cool and heat air, as well as make sure that the temperature-controlled air is distributed evenly throughout your building.
You’re probably familiar with what a furnace is, but we’ll describe how it works as part of an overall HVAC system so you can get a feel for its role in the big picture. The furnace is the key component for providing heat to a building. It’s one of the most substantial parts of an HVAC system and often must be placed in a specially designed location, according to how the building is laid out. Furnaces generate heat by burning natural gas, propane, coal, or oil, using electric resistance via a heat pump, or solar energy. Newer furnaces are more eco-friendly and energy-efficient, which makes replacing an aging furnace a better idea than ever.
The heat exchanger is the part of your furnace that actively pulls cold air in and circulates it back through the vents after it is heated. A heat exchanger is usually activated by a thermostat that enables it to operate when the temperature in a building needs to increase.
An evaporator coil is one of the components necessary for cooling air during summer. It’s usually located on the furnace exterior and works in the same fashion as a radiator to produce cool air.
The condensing unit connects to the evaporator coil. It’s a unit that contains a refrigerant gas that essentially absorbs heat from the air. This gas is cooled to liquid form before moving to the evaporator coil, where it can absorb heat and become a gas again. Once it has become a gas, it returns to the condenser unit, and the cycle begins again.
Refrigerant lines are the pipes that carry refrigerant from a condensing unit to an evaporator. These tubes are thin and made of materials – including copper – that are heat- and cold-resistant.
The thermostat is the brain of the HVAC unit and is the component of the system with which you will typically interact. When you set the thermostat to your desired temperature, it engages sensors to monitor the internal air temperature. When it becomes too hot or cold, the thermostat activates either the heat exchanger or evaporator coils to warm or cool air until the building reaches your desired temperature. You can also get automatic thermostats that adjust the temperature throughout the day to fit your needs.
When the air is cooled or heated, the HVAC system distributes it to the rest of the building. Ductwork refers to the system of pipes, or ducts, that transports air and connects the HVAC system to the rest of the building. The ducts then transfer the air to other rooms via vents.
Types of Commercial HVAC
If you’ve ever spoken with a professional at a commercial HVAC company, you probably heard plenty of jargon that you may not have understood. But if you want to update your current system or install a new one, it’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the various types of HVAC systems available. Each system has different specifications and works best for specific types of buildings. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each system, you can choose the right kind for you.
A split HVAC system is one that has both an indoor and outdoor unit. The indoor unit contains the evaporator coil and blower, while the outdoor unit comprises the compressor and condensing unit. A split system can come with optional accessories, including air purifiers, humidifiers, and even ultraviolet (UV) lamps to sterilize air. The indoor unit can be connected to a building’s furnace or heat pump to provide a comprehensive cooling-and-heating solution.
The main advantage of a split system is that it is easy to install, thanks to its relatively uncomplicated design. You can use it for both heating and cooling, and you can equip each room with an indoor unit to provide an extra layer of temperature control, as necessary.
A split HVAC system, however, comes with the disadvantage of being limited by how far you can run refrigerant tubing efficiently. Refrigerant needs to remain at a specific temperature, and the longer the tubing, the more the temperature fluctuates. That’s why most manufacturers recommend a maximum of 50 feet from the condenser to the evaporator. Following this recommendation limits use of split systems in large buildings, where you can’t continuously add outdoor units.
Hybrid Heat Pump System
A heat pump is an air-conditioning system that can also operate in reverse, thus providing both heating options and cooling ones. The main drawback of a heat pump is that in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit it becomes inefficient. In a hybrid system, you can add a furnace to provide heating when the heat pump can’t cope. This system offers an energy-efficient solution to heat your building, even on the coldest nights.
The main advantage of a hybrid heat-pump system is that it is energy-efficient and relatively inexpensive to operate. It’s a great option for buildings that require both high levels of cooling in summer and substantial heating capacities in winter. The added furnace helps the heat pump work effectively year-round.
The main disadvantage of this system is that it is quite expensive to install, though you’ll make up this cost in the energy savings it generates.
Ductless Split System
There are some areas where you just can’t run ducts, and that’s where a ductless system comes into play. These systems comprise an outdoor unit that contains the compressor, condenser unit, a fan, and an indoor handling unit. You can usually install the indoor and outdoor units in such a way that a wall separates them, through which a small amount of tubing connects the two units.
Modern ductless split systems can handle as many as four indoor units per outdoor unit, which makes this an excellent system for buildings with multiple offices or rooms. Ductless split systems are, however, limited in the amount of space they can cool. As a result, they and are less-suitable for very large buildings, but they are a great complement to existing HVAC systems.
Packaged HVAC System
As the name suggests, a packaged HVAC system is one that contains every element of the HVAC system in one contained unit. You’ll find the evaporator and condenser components in a single unit, along with the blower and compressor, which move the air throughout. In addition to their cooling capabilities, they can include electric coils for heating.
The main advantage of a packaged HVAC system comes with buildings that don’t have much space for outdoor units but still require substantial heating and cooling. The main drawback of this type of system is that it’s not suitable for larger buildings, as the single unit is unable to distribute air throughout the entire building. People mostly use them in small commercial buildings that don’t have space for larger HVAC systems.
How to Choose the Right HVAC Contractor
If you are looking for a reputable AC-repair contractor near you–or for the best commercial HVAC companies in Dallas to install a new HVAC system–it’s essential to choose your contractor carefully. Installing and maintaining an HVAC system requires specific skills and knowledge. You want to find someone with up-to-date expertise for installation so that you can avoid associated problems down the line.
When identifying a commercial HVAC contractor in Dallas, Texas, check to ensure that they are licensed and bonded. This is a good indicator that the company takes its work seriously. Check references by searching for a commercial HVAC in Fort Worth, Texas on review sites such as Yelp. Identify both recent and older references and, if possible, visit some of its installations in person for a good indicator of the longevity of the contractor’s work.
Finally, be sure to get quotes from multiple HVAC contractors. This will give you an idea of the going market rate and eliminate contractors that are either too cheap or too expensive. If a contractor offers a rock-bottom price, you can be sure they’ll be cutting corners somewhere.
By following these procedures, you’ll engage the tools to help you find a company that will do the job right the first time, leaving you satisfied and confident. You can also return to the same contractor to perform regular maintenance and repairs down the road, as necessary.