By Sophia Moore
Finding the right commercial HVAC equipment for any commercial building is a task, and with all of the options and new technology on the market today it is definitely not an easy answer. When this task involves finding equipment for a particularly dry climate, it shortens the list of options down a bit. Doing research ahead of time is key. Despite some limitations, there are many options to choose from when choosing for buildings in dry climates. These choices include: Heat pumps with auxiliary heat; Zoned Duct Systems; Zoned Mini-Splits; and Straight Cools.
As it is in warmer areas, heat pumps are still a great choice for efficiency even with a commercial building. This type of equipment should be at the forefront of your arsenal because in this climate you rarely have to use heat—but when you do the heat pump will not dry the air out more like a gas furnace. And in the case a heat pump fails, you will typically have back up electronic heat while waiting for the repair. This system is usually only efficient if the heat pump is running optimally so facility professionals should ensure routine maintenance is ongoing.
A gas furnace is not a very good option for dry climates, since a furnace will actually dry out the air more as it runs. Even though a gas furnace is usually very efficient and effective this is not the climate right for it. This system is typically meant for more humid areas. And the same goes for electronic heat strips; they will do the same thing by drying out the air and removing humidity.
Another great method for a dry climate would be zoned duct systems. These systems can help make a building more efficient by putting demanded air in the right areas and directing airflow where it is needed. This system would:
- Allow different areas on the building attached to the same ductwork operate at different temperatures. By doing that, if one area of the building demands a higher load than the others it would get the air directed towards it without dumping unneeded air in the other areas supplied.
- Cut down on the energy load of the HVAC equipment. This helps the building, or at least every area on the duct, to heat and cool evenly.
What is the key for these types of climate areas? Cooling and heating the desired area without making the air dryer than it already is! Sometimes this is easier said than done, so humidifiers should also be considered. A humidifier is an ideal way to balance out the humidity in the air and playing peacekeeper for allergy and sinus issues. Living in a dry area is taxing enough outside of a controlled space, but if you ask anyone from a more humid climate to live in a dry one for a while, they will all tell you how troublesome it really is.
A good option for smaller commercial buildings are Zoned Mini-Split Systems. These systems allow each area of the building to demand to different areas; if one office or space demanded a higher load they could achieve it without taxing the other areas of energy much like Zoned Duct Systems. These systems are great as well because they usually come with air handlers that mount to the wall. I’m willing to bet we will be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
These are just a few great examples on effective options for facilities operating in dry climates. These can help make the air less dry, make equipment as efficient as possible, and offer the latest technology.
Moore has worked for more than five years in HVAC industry with Parker & Sons, Inc., a Phoenix HVAC company in business since 1974. She understands customer and business needs and is focused on providing only relevant and quality information and advice.