Considering an air conditioning replacement this year? Be sure to weigh the proper factors to determine what system is right for you. Assuming a newer version of the current equipment is right can be a mistake. Especially for a commercial air conditioning system, it’s important to consider how your conditions and needs may have changed.
There may be changes in size or design of your space that make a smaller or larger system the right choice. In addition, new HVAC technology may be available that be applied. An improved system can increase occupant satisfaction and system efficiency which can lower energy and repair expenses.
What to consider when choosing the best air conditioning replacement system
1. Has your space been renovated?
Has your space been renovated since your last air conditioning system was installed? Or are you looking for an air conditioning replacement due to a current renovation project?
When you add space, lose space, or re-configure the same space, that affects your air conditioning load requirements. You might need a system with a different cooling capacity (bigger or smaller). If you have a ducted system, you’ll likely need changes to your ductwork design.
Don’t let a building contractor choose your new system based solely on what you have now, because you could wind up very unhappy. If your system’s capacity is too large, it will turn on and off frequently and have trouble removing humidity. If it’s too small, it will run constantly and have trouble cooling the space.
Instead, get an HVAC expert to evaluate your space, determine the correct load requirements, and recommend exactly what you need for your air conditioning replacement system.
2. Has usage of the space changed?
Has your business moved into a new space? Or have you changed how you are using your current space?
Usage of the space has a big impact on your air conditioning needs. For example, opening a restaurant or a pilates studio in what used to be office space increases the need for cooling. There are more people occupying the space, which generates more heat and increases the need for ventilation. Plus, activities like cooking require specialized air conditioning and ventilation systems to remove grease, odors, and heat from cooking appliances.
If the usage of your space has changed since the existing air conditioning system was installed, there’s a good chance you need an air conditioning replacement with some design changes. For example, a restaurant will likely need a makeup air unit in the kitchen. A computer room might need a supplemental ductless mini-split unit to provide extra cooling for heat-producing technology.
If you don’t choose your air conditioning replacement system based on how you’re using the space now, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and poor comfort.
3. Do you have poor comfort conditions?
Anything that makes your employees and customers uncomfortable is hurting your business. Have you been living with inconsistent temperatures in your space, with some areas too hot while others are too cold? Or excess humidity? What about drafts or loud AC noise?
If so, you definitely need an evaluation of your space, and chances are you need HVAC design changes or a different type of system.
For example, if you have a problem with inconsistent cooling and too much humidity, you might benefit from a VRF HVAC system (new technology that’s designed to better manage these conditions). Or, you might need to add or modify your ductwork.
4. Do you have air quality issues?
Many types of commercial spaces can have compromised air quality that puts occupants at risk. Here are just a few examples: commercial kitchens, manufacturing and industrial facilities, salons and spas, dry cleaners. Even if your business is located near another business that produces VOCs and other pollutants, your ventilation system may be drawing in toxins.
If air quality is a concern for you, you may want to consider HVAC add-ons that can help to improve air quality, such as:
- HVAC air filtration systems that are designed to remove contaminants
- Air purifiers that use UV light to kill mold, bacteria, and viruses
5. Do you want to reduce energy bills?
It’s no secret that energy expenses can be a large part of expenses involved in maintaining any facility. If you’re hoping to reduce those expenses with a newer, more efficient air conditioning replacement system, it’s best to think carefully about the one you choose.
Looking at air conditioner energy-efficiency ratings is a great place to start. But you can do more to get a new system that will save you money.
Consider a VRF system. VRF systems are designed for energy efficiency, because they run at the exact capacity needed for the current conditions. By contrast, most traditional systems only run at one speed: full blast. That’s why they turn on and off frequently and create drafts, not to mention a lot of noise. Plus, VRF systems can provide heating as well as cooling.
Get programmable controls. Depending on the size of your business, you can go with simple, programmable thermostats, or invest in building control systems. Either way, programming those controls to optimal settings based on your business hours and occupancy can significantly reduce your bills.
6. Should you replace heating equipment at the same time?
Some types of heating systems share components with air conditioning systems, such as air handlers, blowers, and ducted distribution systems. In that case, it’s worth considering replacing both heating and air conditioning equipment at the same time.
When systems like heating and air conditioning are designed to work together, you can end up with problems when you replace only part of the system. Mismatched components can cause breakdowns, poor comfort conditions, and higher energy bills