Looking for recomendations for outdoor HVAC unit for small commercial building
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    1
    Going to soon be renovating a small commercial building (roughly 2000 sq feet, 45 ft x 45 ft). To maximize interior space the owner is suggesting an outdoor HVAC unit.

    Building is single-floor, concrete block walls, climate is similar to Detroit / Cleveland / Buffalo / Toronto.

    Any major drawbacks to locating the HVAC unit outside?

    Any suggestions as to make/model of unit?

    Thanks for any tips.

    -Joe-

  2. #2

    Post Design Architect

    Originally posted by sm5w2
    Going to soon be renovating a small commercial building (roughly 2000 sq feet, 45 ft x 45 ft). To maximize interior space the owner is suggesting an outdoor HVAC unit.

    Building is single-floor, concrete block walls, climate is similar to Detroit / Cleveland / Buffalo / Toronto.

    Any major drawbacks to locating the HVAC unit outside?

    Any suggestions as to make/model of unit?

    Thanks for any tips.

    -Joe-
    Whom ever is going to do the mechanical design and drawing you'll be submitting for permits for "Tenant Improvements" will most likely make some recommendations. In the likely event you do not have such a architec, hiring a commercial HVAC contractor will benifit you. This should be done now in the planning stages so as to get all the conflicting issues such as lighting,plumbing, electrical, fixtures out of the way.

    Load calculations need to be done to determine the design load of what ever your doing there. An example would be people loads, mechanical loads such as freezers, reach in coolers, ect., they all add to the load design. So I am saying theres no rule of thumb.

    Regarding brand, model that will all play in to place when you determine what it is your doing.
    AllTemp Heating & Cooling

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    Metal roof building?

    You can get a packaged heat/cool with horizontal discharge that could be installed on grade outside and ducted into the space. Right now I know that the Trane Precedent series rooftop unit can be installed very close to the building with minimal ductwork. The unit also is not overly unpleasant to look at with limited screws and moulded corners and top. All the access panels are on one side which is a distinct advantage for placement.

    Here is a picture:


    The duct goes out the back.(I'll throw Trane a bone here that's nice - other manufacturers aren't so good at figuring this application out.) You are seeing the "street side" of the unit.

    However, a new high efficiency furnace can be installed in a closet or in the ceiling (in most areas)so I think that the duct penetration into the space may take up the same amount of space.

    A rooftop unit is going to be less efficient for heating. If your building is really insulated well, you won't care as much.

    Where is the water heater going? I'll bet the owner isn't mounting that outside. How about the circuit breakers? (see where I'm going...)

    [Edited by sysint on 04-03-2005 at 10:05 AM]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Columbus Ohio
    Posts
    328
    There are some real advantages to a package unit on the
    ground ducted in or on the roof. Like economiser, using
    outdoor air for combustion, easier to service, save space,
    I agree the Trane Precident unit would be a good choice

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Charleston SC
    Posts
    123
    From a service and maintenance point of view it is always better to install your equipment on the roof.
    When equipment is installed where it is difficult to get to i.e. above a suspended ceiling, it does not get as good coil cleaning etc., ultimately shortening the life of the equipment. There are only so many fanatically determined HVAC techs out there. Some are only filter changers.
    Additionally as was mentioned above rooftop equipment is more conducive to economizer options. Economizers, depending of course on your heat load profile can save a lot of money on cooling costs over the lifetime of the equipment, especially in the climate you mentioned.

    Have a competent professional do a load calculation, consider the cost an investment that will save you on operating costs and equipment breakdowns, and whatever you do-do not oversize the equipment.

    Regards

    Coolairman

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    1,389

    only drawbacks

    I can think of:

    1. any property line setback and/or fencing requirements.
    2. vandalism.
    3. ducting must run either up the outside walls and may have to be covered or space lost due to inside chase.
    4. protection from automobile traffic requirements.

    A water source for a hose would be beneficial wherever any outdoor unit is placed for cleaning purposes. A tee at the water heater cold water side may be the cheapest place to get the line if there is a water heater and its location is in decent proximity. Besides, they could plant some real cool plants outside and water them also. :>)
    Good luck with your project.

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