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Selecting An Efficient A/C System for a Multifamily Home

Posted on January 30, 2019

Designers of multifamily real estate have various preliminary decisions to make at the start of a new project. Yet, the type of HEATING AND COOLING system that will be utilized in the property is a decision that has long-lasting ramifications. In this article, we will lay out effective A/C systems for a multifamily home.

Eventually, the choice boils down to a number of aspects, from setup and upkeep costs, looks and energy efficiency, along with the size of the property. Low-rise structures, for instance, tend to have different needs compared to mid-rise or high-rise developments.

Beyond this, multifamily developments also have special HVAC requirements, compared to single-family houses. Multifamily heating and cooling units must deliver:

  • Peak load flexibility: It’s hard to approximate the peak energy need of a multi-family home. The system must be enhanced to manage a variety of peak loads.
  • Specific comfort controls: Residents must have in-unit controls, which can be delivered in a few different methods.
  • Maintenance: HVAC systems might be consisted of in-unit or as part of a central system. Either way, the system should be created to be quickly kept.

Eventually, the concern is: Which systems are the most energy effective?

Centralized vs. Decentralized HVAC Units

Multi-family HVAC UnitsA/C systems for multifamily buildings fall into 2 categories: Centralized and decentralized systems. Centralized HVAC systems are similar to a home’s heating and cooling systems. Heat and/or Air Conditioner feed from a main area, generally a mechanical room in the basement of the structure. Centralized systems do have a higher expense, and therefore, they’re more typical in mid-rise and high-rise residential or commercial properties with many systems.

Decentralized units, on the other hand, are separated. Each unit is dealt with as its own building, and different heating and cooling systems are delivered to the specific systems. These systems are generally thought about “self-contained.” Baseboard heat is another kind of decentralized system.

Energy Effectiveness of Centralized and Decentralized Systems

Centralized systems outperform decentralized A/C systems in regards to energy performance. Yet, the higher installation costs may make these systems cost excessive. Typical kinds of centralized HVAC  systems include:

  • Hot Water Baseboard: These systems provide hot water from a central place to private units. Essentially, the hot water flows through the radiator, as the radiator sucks in cooler air and heats it. This type of system is economical to set up and is fairly efficient.
  • Two-Pipe Systems: This system includes a central water boiler, in addition to a central cooling plant, which is normally on the roof. These systems have 2 pipelines– one for delivering hot or cold water– and one for returning. Heat and A/C can not be provided at the exact same time. Effectiveness is improved with these systems.
  • Four-Pipe Systems: Four-pipe systems use similar equipment to the two-pipe system, however because there are four pipelines, cooling and heating can be offered at the very same time. Apartment A can select heat, while Home B can choose to cool. These systems are costly to set up, however are popular for their effectiveness.
  • Geothermal Systems: Among the most efficient types of A/C systems, geothermal utilize a water loop buried within the earth to heat or cool the water. This water can then be provided to individual units with a two- or four-pipe system.

Decentralized systems are, typically, more affordable to set up, however the majority of do not deliver optimal efficiency.

  • Electric Baseboard Heat: Baseboard heat is one of the most cost-effective alternatives to install. These systems are inefficient and bring high operating costs, and they’re just capable of supplying heat.
  • Wall Unit A/C: Like baseboard heaters, wall systems are cost-efficient to install, however they are inefficient. Furthermore, these systems normally only supply cooling.
  • Packaged Thermal A/C Unit: A common heating/cooling option used in hospitality developments, PTAC systems are wall-mounted forced air systems. Generally, these systems have shorter life cycles, and they aren’t really efficient.
  • Self-Contained Systems: These are forced air systems that deliver heating and cooling an individual system. Heating and cooling equipment is installed in each specific unit, either in a closet or installed to an outside wall. In regards to decentralized HVAC units, the self-contained HVAC systems are the most effectiveness.

Tips for Maintaining Energy Effective HVAC Units

Eventually, your choice of HVAC systems will set the standard for the system’s efficiency, however there extra steps that can be taken too. Correctly sealing heating and cooling duct work can immediately enhance a system. Furthermore, improving the insulation of the building envelop can reduce the system’s overall heating or cooling load. Contact Comfort Systems to setup a free consultation to help you in selecting the best HVAC solution for your multifamily home.

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