Types of Commercial HVAC Systems: Insights for Optimal Selection

If you’ve ever had to purchase an HVAC system for a commercial building, be it office buildings, schools, or retail shops, whether it’s for a new property or to replace the system in an existing property, you may have been overwhelmed with the vast array of parts and choices. It’s quite a daunting task, from rooftop units, packaged units, chiller systems, to VRF systems, and even the installation cost. Every option has its properties, advantages, and disadvantages that you need to take into account. You must consider everything from energy efficiency to budget, balancing the repair and maintenance requirements with cost-effectiveness. These innovative devices, inclusive of elements like the air conditioning system, heat exchanger, and even the furnace, play a crucial role in ensuring climate control and maintaining air quality.

Their efficiency is of utmost importance for the comfort of your employees, tenants, customers, and the functionality of facilities like air handlers and fans. They function in different zones of the building, preserving conducive temperatures and ensuring a conducive environment which is pivotal to the happiness of your tenants and essential to businesses’ needs. Assessing spaces and air filtration functionalities within these systems, making sure the airflow is proper, is a lot to ponder over. As a property owner, you want to offer the best services by doing a lot right by them. At the same time, you also want to make sure that the system, armed with variable air volume capabilities, is energy-efficient for the design of the building, preserving your bank account across different settings and climates.

Understanding the different types of commercial HVAC systems can help you make an educated decision and ensure that you choose the right system for the size and function of your property. Each option varies in its properties, and you will have to consider everything from cooling towers, boilers, fan coil units to efficient energy management systems. They all have their unique features and benefits which will help maintain the right temperature and humidity in your building.

Or you can call us for help with your commercial HVAC installation in Las Vegas. Along with the installation of the HVAC units, we can also help with the installation and maintenance of geothermal systems, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, and economizers. These installations call for precise needs and intricate design considerations to ensure proper functionality.

What Are the Different Types of Commercial HVAC Systems?

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  • Single Split systems
  • Multi-Split systems
  • VRF or VRV systems

While there is an infinite number of variations, there are three major categories under which HVAC systems fall. These include:

The correct choice for your building will depend on a variety of factors. Here is a brief introduction to the different categories and which may work best for your property according to your specific climate and environmental needs.

Single Split System

A single split system is one of the most popular types of HVAC as it is affordable and suitable for most small commercial buildings. Often inclusive of components like humidifiers and dehumidifiers along with the essential units, they are excellent for buildings with small offices, server rooms, shops, or restaurants as they allow for individual room heating and cooling control settings.Working on the principle of heat transfer, multi-split systems can be an effective solution for larger spaces. Their ability to heat or cool different zones in the room offers significant advantages for occupants. These systems act as guides, leading the lines of heat to where they are most needed.

An integral part of your multi-split system will likely include an air conditioner to cool the refrigerant as well as furnaces and an evaporator coil that will effectively convert the refrigerant. Just like the conventional rooftop units or geothermal systems, these then circulate the air using ducts throughout the building. Designed with a similar appearance to an energy management system, you will control it using a thermostat or control panel. However, it’s worth noting that the installation process is more complex for these systems than for some others, which could be seen as a downside.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this type of unit.


  • Cheaper than installing a central system.
  • Since each system is self-contained, when one unit breaks down, the others are still functional.


  • Each indoor unit requires an outdoor unit. This can take up a great deal of space depending on how many units you need.

Multi Split System

Multi splits operate slightly differently from single split systems. With the ability to connect up to nine indoor units with one outdoor unit, these heat pump systems have an extended lifespan. The operation is facilitated by inverter technology which allows the compressor to operate at variable speeds. This feature is similar to the operation of VRF systems and other HVAC equipment like boilers and cooling towers.

Multi-split systems offer a noteworthy advantage in terms of energy consumption. Traditional forced-air HVAC systems usually consume a large amount of energy each time the compressor turns off and on. However, economizers, part of a multi-split system, significantly reduce the energy consumed by detecting small changes in temperature and making small adjustments when necessary.

The heat pumps in the system use the natural movement of heat from warm areas to cool ones just as single heat pump systems do. This process saves money and energy compared to traditional furnaces and air conditioners.


  • Preserve your outdoor space and the look of the building with fewer outdoor units.
  • You can use both wall and ceil mounted air conditioning units and an air curtain for over the entrance.


  • These systems required more pipework than single slits, so the cost of installation will be higher as will the time necessary to complete the job.

VRF or VRV System

In commercial HVAC systems, you may come across the terms VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) and VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume). Though they sound similar, these function a bit differently and were developed by different companies. Just like packaged units and rooftop units, these are now used interchangeably.

Depending on the size of your space, whether it is medium to large like a mixed-use building, retail or large office space, or hotels, a VRF/VRV system may be the best choice for your business. There are two types of these systems: Heat Pump and Heat Recovery. Both types are integral to effective energy management systems.

A Heat Pump system focuses on providing either heating or cooling to a building, hence suitable for open plan areas. In contrast, a Heat Recovery system can provide heating and cooling simultaneously which is more apt when the building has several smaller rooms. They do this by gathering waste heat from other areas of the building and using it to heat other rooms and hot water.


  • They meet larger builder’s heating and cooling requirements.
  • They are reliable, efficient, and easy to control.
  • Installation is quick, so your daily business is not majorly inconvenienced.
  • The Heat Recovery systems provide a great deal of flexibility.


  • The purchase and installation costs are higher than other systems.
  • In larger building, you may need to invest in a backup condenser in case the outside unit fails.

Related: Cost Difference Between Residential vs. Commercial HVAC?