How Does a Commercial HVAC System Work?

A commercial HVAC system is designed to regulate the environment within your business or industrial building. Commercial HVAC systems are specially built to manage the challenges of heating and cooling a large-scale building, and it’s crucial to understand how they function in order to select the best system for your company’s needs.

Commercial HVAC

How Do Commercial HVAC Systems Work?  

HVAC is an acronym for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These three elements work together to form HVAC systems for both residential and commercial settings. For businesses, however, the structure, layout, and components may differ.


When the building’s heating system is turned on, combustion gases are produced by the system’s inner components and is then transported to a heat exchanger. The air from your inside your commercial space is forced through the heat exchanger, where it is heated before being circulated throughout the building via your ductwork.


Ventilation is a critical part of an HVAC system because it allows fresh air to from outdoors to enter your business and stuffy, contaminated air to leave the building.

Without appropriate ventilation, interior air will get stale, odor would hang in the air, and mildew or mold growth would become more noticeable. Through flues and vent pipes, polluted indoor air is vented to the outside, while fresh air is circulated indoors to particulate matter and excess moisture.


To cool the air in a commercial space, air conditioning and refrigeration technology is used to remove heat from it. Both air and water-cooled systems are available, both of which lowers indoor air temperature while maintaining adequate humidity levels. 

Types of Commercial HVAC Systems

There are three general categories for commercial HVAC systems. These include:  

Single Split Systems

A single split commercial HVAC system is a popular, cost-effective alternative that is an excellent option for smaller companies, including local restaurants, boutique retail stores, and small offices. A single-split system provides for independent heating and cooling management for each individual room within the space, or they may be combined to better regulate the environment in a larger commercial area. 

Multi Split Systems

A multi-split commercial HVAC system operates similarly to a single-split system, with the exception that up to nine (9) interior units can be linked to a single outside condenser. This system, which uses inverter technology to enable the compressor to work at various speeds, is commonly utilized in larger office facilities, healthcare institutions, and retail establishments.

Less energy is used throughout the day with a multi-split system compared to a typical forced-air system. With the latter,  the compressor cycles on and off each time the unit is used to maintain the target temperature, which can be costly over time. A multi-split system saves a significant amount of energy since built-in sensors detect tiny environmental fluctuations and make minor adjustments to maintain steady temperature and humidity levels. 

VRV or VRF Systems

Many commercial settings utilize a variable refrigerant volume (VRV) or variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system. These systems in turn use either heat recovery technology or a heat pump. Heat pumps can offer both heating and cooling, which is useful for big open spaces. However, a heat recovery system can supply both heating and cooling at the same time, making it perfect for scenarios where the commercial space is split into different areas with radically different temperatures.

For example, a restaurant would have a very hot kitchen that needs much more cooling capability than the dining room. In winter months, you may need to run the heating for the dining room and the air conditioner in the kitchen.   

Which system is right for your business depends largely on your needs, the size and layout of your space, and other determining factors. It’s important to consult with an experienced commercial HVAC technician to get help selecting and installing or upgrading your commercial heating and cooling system.

Contact N.E.T.R., Inc. Today to Learn More About Your Commercial HVAC System Options

Learn more about commercial HVAC systems and how they work by contacting your leading Massachusetts heating and cooling provider, N.E.T.R., Inc. Call today at (781) 933) 6387.

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