Service-Guide
November 6, 2020

Commercial AC Unit Installation Guide

Is your business looking for a Commercial HVAC professional in the Billings and surrounding area? With most HVAC systems lasting well up to 15 years, a commercial unit can be some of the best money spent. However, hiring the wrong contractor can leave your business with an ineffective and costly expense.

It is better, in the long run, to do diligent research and hire the best HVAC specialist in your area. A licensed professional you trust will help you to understand the unit you are purchasing and how to maximize its efficiency. This service guide by Brink Inc. will go through our process for helping customers in Montana and Wyoming get the best commercial AC service possible.

Types of AC Systems

  • Split systems: Utilizing a 'split' between indoor and outdoor components is what makes the Split system the most popular type of central air system in the US. The refrigeration system sits outside, consisting of a metal cabinet that contains the compressor and condenser coil while the air handler, which holds the blower and evaporator coil is inside. Refrigerant lines connect the system. 
  • Heat pump: Heat pumps are another type of split system that supplies cool air in the summer and heat in the winter. A heat pump uses mechanical energy to extract heat from the air and transfer it either outside or inside, depending on whether your location requires heat or air conditioning. As with other split systems, the air handler is inside while the heat pump cabinet sits outside.
  • Packaged air conditioners: A Packaged air conditioner is an RTU (rooftop unit). These units sit on the rooftop of a commercial building and have a higher capacity that is typically enough to cool an entire commercial building. They are often preferred for commercial use due to their modest footprint and versatile installation.
  • Ductless mini-split: Ductless mini-split systems offer commercial locations greater control over energy use and temperature. A ductless system uses an outdoor air conditioner or a heat pump, connected to air handling units in one or more rooms, to distribute the airflow which can be separated from the other air handlers.

Central Air Conditioner Installation Checklist

The actual steps may vary depending on the specifics of the job. However, this checklist can provide an overlook of the steps most likely to be taken. When working with Brink Inc.'s HVAC service team, we are a source for the customer at every step of the process. 

  1. Confirm all shipments and delivery times with all parties.
  2. Set a date to start prepping the installation site. For an RTU, a time early in the morning is better.
  3. Confirm with third parties on the date, and the use of hoisting equipment if the unit is to be installed on the rooftop. 
  4. Take apart and remove the existing air conditioner/ductwork.
  5. Install new duct systems or perform duct repairs.
  6. Prepare the installation site. Depending on the unit or system installed, rooftop supports or concrete pads will be positioned to secure the unit in place. 
  7. Connect the indoor and outdoor units. As previously calculated on the job inspection, the appropriate size for drain piping, electrical lines, and refrigerant will be connected.
  8. Connect the new or existing thermostat to the central air conditioner.
  9. The vacuum will remove contaminants from the refrigerant lines 
  10. Charge the new central air conditioner with refrigerant.
  11. The new cooling system will start and run.
  12. Perform a final installation inspection to ensure the system functions properly.

Other Considerations

As running a commercial HVAC system is a heavy operation expense, your HVAC contractor should lend assistance in the eventual purchasing decision. As a heating and cooling contractor in Montana and Wyoming, where temperatures can reach extremes, we know how to maximize the potential of your unit. Here are some quick considerations when starting your search.

  • AC Unit Size: Consider the size of the unit needed to maximize efficiency. Buying and installing a unit that is either too small or too large can lead to inadequate or constricted airflow. HVAC contractors use different formulas to help calculate the approximate airflow needed to adequately cool a specific room.
  • Building Layout: The layout and design of your building can play a large role in the type of system you plan to install. Different systems may better suit your building's layout, saving on installation cost, and improving airflow. You should take into consideration the amount and size of the rooms in your building.
  • SEER Rating: Having a unit with a higher SEER Rating will ultimately reduce utility expenses. Try to find a balance between size and efficiency to get the most out of your unit. 
  • AC Durability: Brink Inc. provides customers HVAC maintenance agreements that offer perfectly-timed service visits. Most units can last up to 15 years, and having a trusted maintenance schedule is vital to ensuring this lifespan. RTUs (Rooftop Units) are vulnerable to hail damage and extreme weather conditions. Consider a unit with extra protection if you're likely to experience extreme seasonal conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Install A Commercial AC Unit Myself?

Installing a commercial AC unit yourself is not recommended. It can be dangerous and lead to further damages and expenses. It is better, in the long run, to have a licensed professional install your AC unit. Research local companies to find a professional HVAC installer with experience from start to finish.

How Do Commercial AC Units Work?

Basic RTU units consist of an Air Hood that draws in outside ambient air that will circulate into the building. The fresh air then flows through a rotating collection of sheet metal called Dampers that open to allow air into the unit or close to prevent air from entering or leaving. The controlled air then flows through a Filter that protects the electrical and mechanical components from dirt and dust that can reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the machine. From here, the air is met by Coils that cool or heat the air by adding or removing thermal energy. A refrigeration system is typically used to cool the air. Comprising of a compressor, condenser, fan, and electrical controls. Typically a belt-driven fan will be pulling and pushing the air from the outside, through the system, and eventually throughout the building.

How Do You Size A Commercial AC System?

Firstly, you will need to calculate the heating and cooling loads for each room. Convert these loads into Mass Flow Rates (ṁ=Q+(cp x ΔT) before converting into Volume Flow Rates (V̇=ṁ x v). This ultimately provides you with approximately the air needed to meet the cooling load for a given room. Take into consideration the shape, material, and construction of the ductwork to optimize efficiency and reduce friction. Create your layout with listing and labels for design and efficiency. Use a Duct Pressure Loss Chart to identify the duct size needed for various pieces to optimize the flow rate and pressure drop. Use Dampers to help balance your system.

Why Is AC Installation So Expensive?

Commercial HVAC installation is expensive due to its significance to business owners and the specialization of contractors. Getting the right system installed can save business owners thousands of dollars every year. Likewise, contractors are quite specialized in understanding refrigerant dynamics, airflow, electrical, plumbing, thermodynamics, and undergo continual training.

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