Four Reasons to Consider Ductless HVAC in Your Commercial Building
Four big benefits of ductless HVAC in a commercial building are:
- Lower energy bills
- Consistent, Customizable Temperatures
- Quiet Operation
- Supplement a Tapped-Out System
Whether your building is ready for a completely new HVAC system, or you’re wrestling with specific heating and cooling problems, ductless may be the solution.
Since the early 2000s, these systems have been most popular in residential properties. But, as the technology matures, they’re becoming a much better fit for commercial buildings.
In this post, we’ll quickly go through the technology and components behind a ductless system. Then, we’ll break down how they’re especially beneficial for property managers and commercial buildings.
Mini Splits and VRF
First of all, when we’re talking about the benefits of a ductless system, we’re considering two components.
First is the mini split. Then, there’s the variable refrigerant flow or VRF.
Let’s quickly look at both of these.
Ductless systems are often called mini splits because they use indoor and outdoor components together.
The heat transfer process is handled by a heat pump outside. In the winter, it draws in thermal energy, amplifies it, and uses it to warm up the building.
In the summer, it expels the indoor heat to keep the place cool.
Inside the buildings, air handlers circulate the air. In the summer, they also dehumidify as part of the air conditioning process.
You can choose to go full ductless with wall-mounted or recessed ceiling air handlers. Or, install a handler with short-run ductwork to treat a larger area.
Variant Refrigerant Flow
Flexible refrigerant piping connects the indoor and outdoor components. Inside is a refrigerant liquid flowing in a closed loop between the pump and handlers.
The refrigerant absorbs heat, which either gets expelled outside or circulated inside.
Now, here’s the critical “variable” part. With VRF, the system only sends as much refrigerant as needed at any given moment.
This process is much different than conventional systems that only cycle between being off or running at full capacity.
We’ll see how this comes into play as we look closer at what these setups offer.
Lower energy bills
We’ll start with what’s on the top of most property managers’ lists: the bottom line. And, when you’re looking at monthly expenses, you’ll see quickly that a ductless system lowers a building’s energy bills.
You get savings from:
- The Heat Transfer Process
- Variable Refrigerant Flow
- Energy-Efficient Air Handlers
We’ll look at each of these separately.
There is an important distinction between generating heat as a conventional system does, versus moving thermal energy from one place to another.
Your traditional furnace uses a combustible resource like gas or oil to generate heat. It uses a lot of energy to create warmth.
Instead, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. This way, it uses a fraction of that energy to run this process.
Variable Refrigerant Flow
Next is the VRF. We mentioned how the refrigerant moves the thermal energy through the building. The “variable” part means the system isn’t always using the same amount of refrigerant.
That means the system isn’t always on at its full capacity. Instead, most of the time, it’s in a low power mode, using just enough energy to circulate a small amount of refrigerant.
That’s even more energy savings on top of the efficient heat transfer.
Energy-Efficient Air Handlers
Now, let’s look inside the building. The quicker and more widespread the air movement in the building, the less time it takes to reach the temperature you want.
And, that means the less time your system spends on a high-power mode.
Ductless air handlers circulate the air much more efficiently than traditional ductwork and vents.
Each one is equipped with sensors to detect hot or cold spots. And, they have small fans that can point the treated air wherever the rooms need it.
Consistent, Customizable Temperatures
A big selling point for ductless in commercial spaces is consistent and customizable temperatures. In other words, you can finally have a consistent temperature across the entire property. At the same time, each tenant has more control over their space.
On large buildings, especially, this solves a problem property managers have wrestled with for years.
We mentioned before that each air handler has a thermostat. That applies whether you’ve got a battery of wall-mounted air handlers or clusters or short-run ducts connected to hidden air handlers.
For individual offices or rented space, these offer individualized comfort. Each area can have a unique setting.
On large buildings, however, you deal with a significant heat difference from one side to the other. It depends on which area’s getting more sun.
This way, your sensors will increase the heat or AC on one side over the other.
These features lead to more cost-savings.
Energy Savings for Large Buildings
Since we’re using a heat transfer process, you can configure the system so the excess heat on the sunny side of the building gets transferred to the cooler side.
If you set up the system with this in mind, you get nearly free energy for heating.
Along with being more efficient, the air handlers are virtually silent. Since there’s no forced air, you don’t hear that rush when the heat or air conditioning kicks on.
Similarly, the heat pump is much quieter than conventional outdoor AC compressors.
While not as crucial for industrial settings, offices and schools especially benefit from whisper-quiet heating and cooling.
Supplement a Tapped-Out system
Thanks to the modular design and VRF, you don’t need to overhaul your entire HVAC to get the benefits of a ductless — although, of course, that’s one option.
Instead, you can add a heat pump and handlers as needed if your current system is working fine but tapped-out.
We see this happen when a building gets an addition or more tenants, for instance. Suddenly, the furnace and air conditioning setup is no longer strong enough to treat the entire property.
In this case, you can add air handlers only in the areas that need them. This also gives you more options when your system is ready for replacement years down the line.
At that point, you can add to the ductless system rather than starting from scratch again.
Commercial HVAC With Bovio
Curious to see how a ductless system would help your commercial property? Give Bovio a call or email today. With a free consultation, we’ll help you find a system that will work for an office park, industrial building, school, church, restaurant, or other commercial property.