Can You Use A Residential HVAC Unit For A Small Commercial Facility?

Small commercial buildings — such as office spaces, boutique retail stores, or studios — are typically occupied by small businesses looking to save cash. Whether the property is rented or owned by the tenant business, it is still important for these businesses to be able to enjoy their workspace while also reducing their maintenance and operational costs. If the building is new, the question may arise whether a smaller HVAC unit could replace a larger, more expensive commercial unit. 

Before coming to a conclusion, it’s important to know the differences in residential and commercial HVAC systems. Not only are they built and installed differently, but they will also require different maintenance depending on which one is right for your building. Below are just a few examples of the ways in which commercial HVAC systems differ from residential units: 

Differences Between Residential and Commercial HVAC Systems

  • Size and complexity – Intuitively, commercial HVAC systems are typically much larger than residential systems because they must cover a larger area. They are also built to handle more complex tasks, such as individually heating and cooling different rooms and adjusting to building capacity and specific usage. For example, a multi-use office facility may need more ventilation and cooling in one space than the other. Commercial HVAC systems are built for this complexity, while residential systems are not.
  • Placement – Most residential units are placed in the backyard, or somewhere else not visible or too close to any bedroom. They can be noisy and not aesthetically appealing, so HVAC technicians will carefully place them to minimize their noticeability. Commercial HVAC systems, however, are typically placed on the roof. It then saves additional space and is protected from dirt and other contaminants.
  • Drainage – Because commercial HVAC systems are much larger, they require more than one drainage area to run efficiently and effectively. Instead of one pan draining to the outside of the building, commercial HVAC systems have complex drainage to ensure that water intrusion is highly unlikely. 
  • Maintenance – Because commercial HVAC systems are much larger and more complex, they require routine preventative maintenance to reduce or eliminate the chance of downtime. If an HVAC system in a home starts to slow down or goes out, it is up to the homeowner to decide when to make the maintenance call. However, commercial buildings have much stricter guidelines; therefore preventative care is typically required. 

Because of these key differences, it is important to choose the HVAC system that will meet the needs and capacity of your building. If you have converted a residential home into an office or studio space, there is no reason to upgrade to a commercial unit, unless you need a more advanced ventilation system. However, if your building is part of a multi-unit facility or is larger than the typical residential space, it is important you invest in a properly fitted HVAC unit. 

To learn more about HVAC installation and maintenance services, contact your local MaintenX team today!

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