Types of Commercial Heating Systems

by Tim Brugger; Updated September 26, 2017
Commercial heating systems come in many forms.

The time and expense involved in installing a new or replacement commercial heating system warrants the research required to find the right product for your commercial needs. And, the initial cost of the equipment and installation is only part of the consideration. Because maintenance costs can vary widely depending on the choices you make, you must also factor that into your decision-making process.

Natural Energy Systems

Installing commercial heating systems using sustainable resources is an option. These systems employ energy sources such as solar and geothermal power. Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) options like these systems are not only good for the environment, but over time they may be more cost efficient than more "traditional" options such as oil and gas. Because of the relatively high initial installation costs, this type of commercial heating system is often reserved for larger businesses.

Oil or Gas Steam Heating Methods

Opting for an oil or gas steam commercial HVAC system, while not the most efficient, is one of the oldest methods of heating commercial properties. The oil or gas is used to boil, condense and subsequently pass steam through the pipes. Generally considered one of the least efficient processes, steam heating also takes longer than most systems to circulate heat, because of the delay between the boiler starting and the heat finally circulating.

Gas or Oil Water Systems

Heating commercial property using a water-based HVAC system is another option. Similar to steam heating in concept, the water heating method uses a boiler to heat water, which is subsequently passed through to radiators positioned throughout the property. Water systems are also less than ideal from an efficiency perspective. One reason for this is that you have to clear the air in the system each time the heat is engaged, causing delays in heating and inefficiencies.

Heat Pump Alternatives

Implementing a heat pump commercial heating alternative is an efficient means of heating a building. This process is similar to the technology used in refrigerators, essentially extracting heat from cold air -- as an example, consider how warm the coils on the back of your refrigerator get -- using a refrigerant, and subsequently pumping the heat generated throughout the commercial property. Because these types of systems do not require a fuel source (gas or oil) to function, they are very efficient systems.

Commercial Heating Selection Tips

Many HVAC professionals suggest calculating the first several years of ownership of your new commercial heating system, not just the installation costs, to help determine those that are truly most cost effective. You can reduce these costs by using high efficiency systems. These systems have high annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings and an Energy Star seal of approval, and they may even be eligible for rebates. Finally, consider your climate when determining the appropriate commercial heating system. A temperate climate may warrant a different system than one with extreme temperatures during the winter and summer months.

About the Author

Tim Brugger has been writing professionally since 1995. He has published newsletters, white papers and informational articles for organizations such as IDS Financial Services, Red Chip Review and Western Independent Bankers. His fiction has also been published online. Brugger majored in business studies at the University of Oregon.

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