What do you know about HVAC systems? Most people understand that the HVAC system provides heated and cooled air through a ventilation system that runs through the building.
It’s a fairly straightforward process. You need a furnace for heating, an air conditioner for cooling, and a ventilation system to connect all the pieces together.
But what works in your home would never work in a commercial environment. And a system you’d use in a small office building is different than something required in a medical facility or an industrial complex.
Industrial heating and cooling units have more requirements to ensure both safety and efficiency. And to determine the right system for your needs, the best place to start is with a few questions.
Are the right tools being used for the job?
Have you ever started a job with a standard screwdriver, only to realize early on that you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver instead? Without one, you struggle with the project. Sure, you might be able to complete it, but you end up spending way more time than you initially designated for the task. There’s also a concern for whether the project was completed accurately. Are the screws in tightly enough? Is the item as safe as it could be?
In order to ensure the safety, security, and comfort levels of everyone who enters the property, it’s important to understand the project before the first piece of equipment is installed. Starting with a well-thought-out plan ensures that you create the right environment for your space.
All equipment should be chosen based on the job the technician will be performing. That means motors, fan blades, cabinet material, compressors—all components should be selected and be up to spec. They should be well-designed by an HVAC engineer or commercial/industrial HVAC specialist for the task at hand. They should also be easily accessible and built with service in mind.
Industrial heating and cooling units are often put through more rigorous conditions than the average HVAC system. That means more things can go wrong with the individual pieces, and the system may require more repair work over time.
Imagine an HVAC system designed for a factory using chemicals or other hazardous materials. Or a medical facility requiring a cleaner air environment. Off-gassing waste products from manufacturing has its own set of rules. And in some situations, corrosion can speed up in certain environments, causing everything from pinhole leaks to full-out breakage in the various tubes, fans, hoses, and cabinets, significantly reducing the equipment life.
If you don’t take all of this into consideration before you install equipment, you’ll be paying for it sooner rather than later.
What are the cooling needs?
In general, there are three different levels of cooling needed for most properties.
- Comfort Cooling—to keep humans comfortable
- High Temperature Cooling—this is used for cooling chemicals and perishable goods
- Sub-Zero Cooling—this is used for anything below freezing
Each has its own requirements. Industrial requirements may often span across two or even all three divisions, making the process that much more difficult.
Air conditioners aren’t just for cooling; they’re also designed for dehumidifying. Yet for air conditioners to dehumidify, they must be working.
For some industrial situations, they require humidity to be removed from the air without adjusting the temperature inside the building. Standard HVAC equipment can’t handle that function without additional factors being taken into consideration.
Instead, HVAC specialists and engineers trained in industrial heating and cooling methods will consider options and install the right system for your needs. For example, it may require additional evaporator coils to recycle hot air or additional circuit breakers to handle the expanded energy use. But once the system is installed, rest assured, it will work properly for your unique situation.
What are the heating needs?
In a lot of industrial situations, heating is where the fight begins and ends. It’s a consistent battle to ensure sensitive equipment and materials don’t overheat.
That doesn’t mean you can ignore your heating solutions. In a lot of industrial situations, hot water and steam heat are readily accessible. That changes the way you can bring heat into your facility.
Heat pumps are often a reliable solution down to around 30 degrees. If you do have access to steam heat or hot water, they can also be good solutions. Electric strip heaters are also commonplace within an industrial setting.
What’s the best choice for your situation? That’s where it’s important to work with a knowledgeable HVAC company that understands your unique processes. We have licensed professional engineers on staff at Entek to ensure the right installation is suitable for your needs.
What ventilation standards should be in place?
While heating and cooling are fairly straightforward across platforms, where industrial needs really change are in the ventilation system.
In your home, ventilation works to bring heated or cooled air to every room. But in an industrial atmosphere, it not only needs to control the temperature of the air, but also the cleanliness and safety of the air supply.
Sometimes it’s important to keep air centralized in one specific location. Outside air should remain outside; inside air should remain in specific areas of the building.
Sometimes fresh air needs to be brought into very specific places. Think of it as opening a window and letting air flow into a condensed area. It’s important for it to come in and have the proper way to escape.
Of course, if you’re heating or cooling the air for human needs too, the last thing you want is to throw money out the window. So having energy recovery ventilation is essential to capture the conditioned air appropriately and direct it where it needs to be.
It’s equally important to keep your space clean and free of unwanted gases, dust, or debris. Pressurization can be an important part of the process in some industrial facilities.
Is the equipment sized correctly for the job?
Industrial sized HVAC equipment is very rarely an off-the-shelf product. Instead, companies like Entek build and customize everything to ensure you get exactly what you need for your unique situation. That means the size can range from a standard unit, up to multiple tonnage units that need space to operate.
This isn’t something just anyone can do. If someone is trained in home HVAC needs, or even has a little commercial HVAC experience, it doesn’t mean they are up for an industrial HVAC job.
All builds should be built to International Electrical Code (IEC) and National Electrical Code (NEC) standards and use certified components.
The more experience a company has in working with industrial heating and cooling units, the safer, cleaner, and more energy efficient your final solution will be.
What questions do you have about creating the right heating and cooling system for your industrial needs?