Picking a Heating and Cooling Method for Your Steel Building
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC) are different for every metal building project.
Some metal workshops only require a small stand up heater, while other commercial structures demand a robust HVAC system with multiple units and a sprinkler system.
Your HVAC system will entirely depend on your building's purposes and temperature control demands.
For the best outcome possible, start thinking about your heating and cooling technology as soon as possible.
Planning for your Metal Building HVAC
It is critical to make decisions about the HVAC system for your metal building early in the design phase.
Depending on the HVAC system you choose, the unit may affect your building requirements.
For instance, if you choose to implement an overhead HVAC with ductwork, your roof design will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Many standard buildings are designed to carry a 1 pound per square foot collateral load on the roof.
A robust HVAC and ductwork system will increase the collateral load required and affect your design plans.
Tips for Reducing your Dependence on HVAC
To maximize cost-saving potential on your HVAC system, consider adding south-facing windows to provide additional heat in the winter.
You can cover the windows in summer to deflect the heat using shutters or blinds.
Energy Efficient windows and doors can also reduce your HVAC equipment needs. It is also essential to choose an HVAC system that is the right size for your building and HVAC requirements.
Oversized systems operate less efficiently, cost more, and improperly dehumidify the air resulting in clammy spaces.
Rather than planning for extreme scenarios regarding occupancy, lighting, and weather, choose the size of your HVAC system based upon normal circumstances.
Types of HVAC Systems
There is an endless number of HVAC models on the market.
The right system for your building will depend on a variety of factors including building size, energy efficiency, operations and maintenance capabilities, maximum occupancy, weather, and other factors.
It isn’t possible to give details on every option out there, but understanding the main categories will provide a good start.
These main HVAC categories include:
- Split Systems
- Heat Pump
- VRF or VRV Systems
- VAV or CAV Systems
- Fan Coil & Blower Coil Units
- Chilled Beam
- Displacement Ventilation
Let's break each one down.
Split Systems are one of the most popular HVAC systems for residential use, but can also be utilized for commercial buildings.
A split system is comprised of five main components:
- Indoor unit
- Outdoor unit
- Filtration system or humidity control technology
A split system can have a single indoor unit or multiple indoor units (referred to as a multi-split system) with a single outdoor unit.
Multi-split systems make it easy to set different temperatures in various rooms of a building or more effectively cool a large room.
Heat pumps gather heat outside from air or water sources and concentrate it for indoor use.
Heat pumps transfer heat from the cool outdoors into your too-warm building in the summer.
In the winter, heat pumps move heat from your cool indoors into the warm outdoors. Because heat pumps do not generate heat, but rather move heat, they are a low-cost alternative to conventional heating or cooling systems.
VRF or VRV Systems
VRF/VRV systems are designed for optimal performance in medium-to-large mixed-use buildings such as large offices, hotels, or retail stores.
These systems operate using either a Heat Pump or Heat Recovery method.
A Heat Pump system can provide either heating or cooling, making it a good option for buildings with open floor plans.
A Heat Recovery system can provide both heat and cooling simultaneously, making it an excellent choice for a building with multiple smaller rooms.
Heat Recovery systems gather heat from overheated rooms and redistribute the warm air to other rooms in the building.
VRF/VRV systems are dependable, efficient, easily installed, and easy to control.
However, initial costs are typically higher than other methods, and large buildings may need to invest in a backup unit in case of a system failure.
VAV or CAV Systems
Variable Air Volume (VAV) systems involve a single duct air system with varying airflow. VAV systems can include options for increased humidity control, temperature control, and zone control.
Constant Air Volume (CAV) systems also use a single duct air system, but have constant airflow.
Fan Coil & Blower Coil Units
Fan Coils and Blower Coils are simple systems that consist of a fan that draws air into the unit then blows it over a hot or cold coil with a fan.
These systems require many units to heat or cool a large area and aren’t ideal for large open rooms. Fan coil units are known for being difficult to work close to because of the noise of the fan.
These units can be secured to the ceiling or protrude out from the wall at the floor level, making it difficult to rearrange a space freely.
Chilled beams are an excellent HVAC option to retain an open floor plan. This convection HVAC system is powered by heating and cooling coils which are connected to water lines that run through a ceiling beam.
Because water carries significantly more energy than air, a chilled beam system requires far less energy while providing the same temperature control as traditional HVAC systems.
A chilled beam system works by cooling the surrounding air with the cold coils in the beam. As the air cools, it falls to the ground and is replaced by rising warmer air.
Chilled beam systems are not as effective at providing heat and must be used in conjunction with a forced-air circulation system in buildings with ceilings above 8.9 feet.
Chilled beam systems are also known for dripping condensation.
Displacement Ventilation is an air distribution system that introduces cold air at the floor level with low velocity.
This is an energy efficient system that also removes air contaminants.
Geothermal systems transfer the earth’s natural, subsurface energy to transfer heat through a ground loop, body of water loop, or well loop.
Hybrid geothermal systems utilize a geothermal well field with a heating/cooling element for operation. A fluid cooler, cooling tower or heat pump provides added cooling for the system.
A boiler or heat pump provides added heating for the system. The cost of Hybrid Geothermal systems is based on the well field size, location, building load and extra capacity for extreme scenarios.
For an alternative or addition to your HVAC solution, you may want to consider solar energy, wind energy, ceiling fans, or other less common heating and cooling options.
Installing Quality Insulation in Your Metal Building
If you are considering an HVAC system for your steel building construction, insulation may be a helpful addition to your plans.
Energy efficient insulation can reduce the size of HVAC equipment your building needs.
A smaller HVAC means lower energy costs and a reduced price for the installation.
Depending on where you live, your HVAC demands, and the technology you utilize to conserve energy, insulation may be the only heating system you need.
Insulation is measured in R-Value which refers to how well the product resists conductive heat flow.
Insulation with a higher R-value outperforms insulation with a lower R-value. R-value fluctuates based upon thickness and materials used. Insulation can also help reduce condensation in metal buildings.
Many insulation systems are designed to collect excess moisture; this ensures building occupants don’t have to deal with droplets of water on the floor or equipment.
Benefits of adding quality insulation to a steel building:
- Provides radiant heat
- Resists humidity
- Acts as a vapor barrier
- Installs easily
- Energy efficient
You also have the option to choose lighting that adds heat to your building, or reduces extra heat.
Consult CDMG Before Choosing Your Steel Building HVAC System
There are so many decisions to make when constructing a new metal building. Don’t let someone else make the choice for you.
It’s one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make for your building regarding comfort, expenses, and aesthetics.
Consider your options and consult with professionals from multiple companies to be sure you make the right choice for your building.
Looking for a metal building supplier? CDMG offers durable pre-engineered metal building kits and will incorporate any HVAC system you choose into your steel building.
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