6 Most Common Types of Commercial HVAC Systems


It’s important to understand that there are many ways to effectively cool your commercial space. Commercial HVAC systems have become more comprehensive, offering efficient ways for you to cool your space, regardless of the size. Much of it comes down to how much control you want of the system and what kind of environment it will be working in.

1. Single Split System

A single split HVAC system is one of the most popular systems on the market. It’s commonly used in smaller spaces such as offices, shops, and bakeries. The system is compact and easy to install, so it’s commonly used in renovated spaces as well as new buildings.

Most single split systems include an air conditioner that will cool the refrigerant and a furnace that will convert the refrigerant followed by an evaporator coil to circulate the air.


  • Affordable to install in small commercial spaces
  • Units are self-contained so if one stops working, the others continue to operate
  • Units are energy-efficient


  • It takes up space both indoors and outdoors

2. Multi Split System

Multi split systems work similarly to a single split system. However, several indoor units are connected to a single external unit. This is particularly important when space is at a premium. Many restaurants, retail shops, and doctor offices utilize such a system since they share a building that is divided up into individual units.

Multi split systems can be overwhelming due to the pipework, which means that installation is key. When there are problems with the installation, it can have a negative impact on HVAC efficiency.


  • The units take up less space
  • The building doesn’t require ductwork
  • Exterior aesthetic is maintained because of only one unit


  • Installation is time-consuming
  • When the outside unit goes down, all units are down

3. VRF Systems

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems are commonly used in medium to large spaces, such as hotels, large department stores, and office spaces. You’ll find that there are two types of systems available: heat pump and heat recovery.

A heat pump system will provide heating or cooling – but cannot do both at the same time. Particularly when you have an open floorplan, this can be an optimal solution.

A heat recovery system can provide heating and cooling at the same time, preferable if you have a building divided into smaller rooms where individual comfort levels may need to be considered.


  • The systems are highly reliable
  • Installation is handled quickly
  • Packaging is small, making it easy to fit into challenging spaces


  • The costs upfront can be substantial
  • Humidity management is limited

4. CAV System

Constant Air Volume (CAV) systems will provide a constant supply airflow rate while varying the temperature to ensure the temperature is met across the overall space. Compressors will work continuously so that the temperature remains constant for long periods of time – ideal for such spaces as hospitals, warehouses, and manufacturing plants.

In many instances, CAV systems are outdated. Instead, they’re being replaced by more modern systems that offer better energy consumption as well as premium zone control.


  • Ideal for locations with constant ventilation requirements
  • Affordable to install


  • Poorly handle humidity
  • High energy costs are associated with the CAV system because of fixed air volume

5. VAV System

Variable Air Volume (VAV) systems use a compressor or fan speed that will vary based on the temperatures found within the room. When a space needs varying heating and cooling needs, the refrigerant flow is regulated by the compressor. It ensures that the temperatures are consistent. These are fairly new systems and are often a common choice when replacing an older CAV system due to their ability to handle zones more effectively.

The VAV system is energy-efficient, and are used in arenas, office buildings, schools, and libraries.


  • Saves on energy costs
  • Works well with variable ventilation loads
  • Controls both humidity and temperature well


  • Setup is expensive in comparison to many other systems
  • Significant space is required because of the need of a fan room
  • Pressure changes can make it difficult to use the system in certain industries

6. Industrial Evaporative Cooler

An industrial evaporative cooler is not HVAC but offers the same cooling capabilities. The technology is different – hot, dry air blows over moistened media to create an evaporative process. This evaporation cools the air, which can lower the overall temperature by 20 degrees or more depending on the humidity level present.

Evaporative coolers (known as swamp coolers) are capable of cooling large spaces. They have fewer moving parts than traditional HVAC systems, which means they offer a significant amount of longevity and less overall maintenance.


  • No ductwork is required
  • Fixed and portable units are available
  • System is low maintenance


  • Media needs to be changed periodically

Choosing the Right System

How do you know which system is right for you? First, you have to consider all of the needs for your space. When you know about the demands of your space (and the overall size), you’ll be able to explore the systems more effectively.

The cost of the various units for installation and maintenance has to be a factor as well. Otherwise, you could find that it will be nearly impossible for you to get your money back over time.

If you’re choosing a system to replace an existing system, you’ll want to see what’s in place. If you don’t have ductwork, you may want to choose a system where there’s no need for adding ductwork. The moment you have to install ductwork, the cost of installation can skyrocket – and this may break the bank.

Explore Commercial Evaporative Coolers Today

At Premier Industries, we manufacture and install a diverse number of commercial evaporative coolers. We provide energy-efficient, low-maintenance systems that can provide a way to lower the temperatures and offer comfort to those around you.

Whether you’re sure that you want to go with a swamp cooler or you want more information, we’re happy to guide you through our systems and answer your questions. Contact us today to learn more.