What is a commercial HVAC system?

The HVAC system in your home is nothing like the commercial HVAC system at the bank, department stores, or grocery stores, and probably where you work.  From the exterior parts of a commercial HVAC system versus residential HVAC system, they are the same but different. 

HVAC commercial or residential systems are the same in regard to the goal of keeping internal temperatures comfortable, but they are different in sizes, how they are setup, and how the operate. Look at commercial HVAC ductwork for starters, it has to be larger than residential HVAC ductwork because it is cooling and heating larger areas with higher ceilings. 

A commercial HVAC system is installed in larger spaces like businesses and large enterprises, restaurants, and schools, etc. While they work the same, they are larger and more robust which requires different parts that are of robust in stature. The main parts of a commercial HVAC system includes: 

  • The Thermostat: The HVAC system in your home has a thermostat for temperature control. The difference in a commercial HVAC system thermostat is that is wired to control the temperature in a larger area, perhaps 100,000’s of square feet, on multiple floors. This of course, usually entails having a separate thermostat on each floor, but in general, the thermostat for a commercial HVAC system does the same job as your residential HVAC thermostat – just a bigger area. 
  • The Furnace: This is typically the largest part of a commercial HVAC system, like the residential HVAC furnace in your home, but again, it is providing the heat for a much larger area.
  • The Heat exchanger: The heat exchanger is within the furnace and as air is pulled into the furnace, it heats it before sending it out through the commercial HVAC air ducts. 
  • The Refrigerant lines: These lines are what makes the cooling part of a commercial HVAC system cool during the summer by turning the refrigerant substance into a liquid form.
  • The Ductwork and the vents: The ductwork and vents maybe the most obvious difference to the untrained eye because the commercial HVAC ductwork is larger is diameter, longer in sections, and there are more of the vents placed around the structure that is being cooled or heated by the commercial HVAC system. 

How do commercial HVAC systems work?

A commercial HVAC system enables three different operations: air conditioning, heating, and ventilation.  Each of these operations are an individual unit within a larger unit that is the commercial HVAC system, and they are all controlled by a central thermostat, enabling them to work as follows: 


The air conditioner within a commercial HVAC system uses refrigeration that cools the air. The refrigerants, or substances absorb the heat, and a gas or liquid form is created. The a compressor is compresses that gas or liquate and raises the temperature.

Once the gas or liquid is pressurized, it transfers into a condensation coil where the heat is released and converts into a cool liquid. From there, the blower inside the commercial HVAC system releases the warm air over an evaporator, converting the liquid into a cooler gas, absorbing the heat out of the air and cooling it down. 


The furnace in a commercial HVAC system gets started by the thermostat signaling heat is needed. The gas valve inside the furnace opens up and the gas burner is ignited. The burner generates the heat that heats the exchanger, and the heat is transformed into the air, flowing through the exchanger and distributed by an internal fan and motor through the commercial HVAC air duct system. 


A commercial HVAC system requires ventilation that allows the right amount of fresh air into the commercial space for both cooling and heating procedures. Without fresh air, the commercial area would be subjected to contaminates and odors. The ventilation system releases harmful contaminants that are created during the cooling and heating process via flues and vents as it allows controlled new air to enter the building through the air ducts.

What are the different types of commercial HVAC systems?

It is essential that a business or public entity have a professionally installed and working commercial HVAC system. Not only is it a legal requirement in some cases, but it ensures that your clients and customers are comfortable as they conduct business. This is especially a significant matter in hospitals and restaurants where the temperature needs to be maintained a certain point. 

Here, we have listed the various types of commercial HVAC systems that are available and what benefits can be expected.

  • Single Split System: A popular choice that is affordable and compact, ideal for commercial shopping, restaurants, small offices, and server rooms. The single split system will sometimes include an air conditioner for cooling the refrigerant, a furnace that converts the refrigerant, and the evaporator coil to distribute the air throughout the structure. A standard thermostat is used to control the unit. Less expensive than a complete centralized system, and if one unit quits, the remain units will still operate. 
  • Multi Split System: This system and a single split system have several similarities in the way of how it operates. The difference is how they function. ng ally speaking, with single split systems. But functionally speaking, there are significant differences between the two. The single split requires each indoor component be paired with an outdoor component.  This multi split system can connect as many as nine indoor units to one outdoor unit. This cuts back on the energy use that the single split system uses and is minimal amount of energy used by a standard commercial HVAC system. There are built-in sensors for temperature adjustments and corrections when needed.

This system also has heat pumps that will help save heating expenses by moving the heat from a warm area to a cool one. A more aesthetic appealing unit with less required units will maintain the structure’s appearance. 

  • A VRF System, aka a variable refrigerant flow system, that is ideal for med size to large spaces like hotels and office spaces. There  is a heat pump type of VRF and a heat recovery type of VRF. The heat pump version provides either cooling or heating independently, not simultaneously, and is ideal for an open floor plan. The heat recovery system, on the other hand, can provide both cooling and heating at the same time and is ideal for a building with several small rooms. 

How long do commercial HVAC systems last?

With routine professional commercial hvac maintenance, you can expect your commercial HVAC system to have a lifespan of fifteen years. Maintenance is important to achieve this life span, including regular filter changes or cleaning, an inspection of all components by a professional commercial hvac installer and technician. 

How do you size a commercial HVAC system?

Air conditioners are measured in tons, the measurement of a unit’s ability to cool an heat an area. In simple terms of thinking, one BTU can cool or heat one pound of water by one degree. So, how do you determine what size of a commercial HVAC system you need for your structure? Here is a math equation to use: 

  • The square footage of your structure
  • Multiply it by twenty-five
  • Divide that by 12,000
  • Then subtract  0.5

If you are replacing a unit that it was in the building when you purchased it, the current size may not be the right size today. Commercial HVAC units have become more energy efficient over the years, so the size of the unit you’ll need will be different. 

Using the above formula can help you determine what size you need, but if that is still a confusing figure, ask the commercial HVAC technician you choose to work with. With this formula, you can double check what they are telling you and ask questions is you’re not sure. Call 817-244-2511 today for commercial HVAC in Fort Worth, TX.


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