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Ultimate Guide to Commercial Air Conditioning

Commercial air conditioning has become increasingly popular due to its numerous benefits in the workplace.  Not only does it help reduce energy costs in building maintenance, but it can also create a more comfortable and inviting environment for employees and customers alike.  It is commonly referred to as commercial HVAC; commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling.

There are important factors to consider when selecting the best air conditioner for your building.  There are also many different types of air conditioning available for a business; Wall Splits, Ducted Systems, Cassettes, Package Units (PAC), Multi-Heads, Air Handling Units (AHU), VRF Systems, and Chilled Water Fan Coil Units (CWFCU), just to name a few!

Here we’ll explore some of the common questions customers and business owners have with regards to commercial HVAC.  In particular, the Why, How and What, as follows:

Why is Commercial Air Conditioning important?

Everything starts with a why.  In the HVAC industry, business owners often ask why they need air conditioning.  Is it required?  If so, why is it important?  What do I need to know?

With so many demands placed on commercial operations today, understanding the purpose of commercial HVAC allows proper assessment of it.  With this understanding, a business owner can then fully consider how it fits into their business.

Commercial Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed to support businesses in all areas.  From legal compliance, to equipment performance and lifespan, to health and wellness of all who enter the building.  These areas affect the business at all levels, from day-to-day operations all the way through to long-term success.

When considering the impact of commercial AC, it’s important to be aware of all types of people entering your business premise.  Occupants and visitors to a business include:

  • Owners
  • Employees
  • Family Members
  • Customers
  • Contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Tradespeople
  • Children
  • Vulnerable populations, and,
  • Anyone else who may enter the building.

The list of air conditioning benefits is extensive, with positive flow-on effects to all areas of a business.  Here we’ll outline just some of the main points when considering commercial air conditioning installation and use.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) & Comfort

Two primary goals of commercial HVAC systems are to maintain acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) and provide thermal comfort.  The different components of an HVAC system interconnect to achieve these key objectives.

Improve Indoor Air Quality

Commercial air conditioners include filtration and/or ventilation to keep the air free from dust and other pollutants that can make breathing difficult.  This is especially true for those sensitive to allergies or with respiratory illnesses.  Filters within commercial aircon trap harmful airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns so you can be sure your staff and visitors are breathing clean, fresh air every day.

Regular cleaning of the filters is important for optimal performance and pollution reduction to ensure that your business cooling system is working properly and cleaning the air effectively.  If not properly maintained, the system can make people sick.

Air conditioning systems can also be used to introduce fresh air into a building, which can help maintain proper air pressure and quality.  By circulating outdoor air into the building, it helps dilute any stale indoor air and ensure that the interior atmosphere is comfortable.

Building's air ventilation system

HVAC can ensure good airflow by removing musty smells and odours while introducing fresh outside air indoors.  This helps keep the environment in the building healthy and clean with improved internal atmosphere.

Increase Comfort & Productivity

Creating a comfortable work environment in commercial spaces is essential for productivity and employee wellbeing.  Commercial AC plays a key role in ensuring optimal temperature and level of comfort for all occupants.

Air conditioners also help to reduce the amount of moisture in the air (humidity), reducing the icky, sticking feeling you get on high humidity days.  Humidity levels must be tightly controlled however, as low humidity levels can cause the indoor air to be too dry and increase the risk of certain health concerns.  Optimal relative humidity level for an office building is between 35-55%.

Employees work better when they are comfortable, and air conditioning helps to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the office.  Commercial AC not only makes employees more productive, but also helps customers feel more comfortable while shopping or visiting your business.  They will want to linger for longer, allowing more client interaction and spending.

Commercial HVAC can also helps improve health and happiness, both during and outside of work hours.  On hot days, air conditioning prevents overheating so employees don’t get distracted or uncomfortable.  This allows staff to concentrate and focus on getting the job done right.  There are already too many distractions and discomforts in a typical work day – Aircon can help reduce some of these!

Work performance in business

By providing an optimal working environment with suitable heating and cooling systems, businesses can ensure their staff remain positive and motivated with the job at hand.  Some studies have shown that having adequate air-conditioning can even increase cognitive ability by 5%.

Positive Commercial Outcomes

Failure to install and maintain HVAC systems that are suitable for a building and the business within it can be disastrous.  Positive outcomes that can be achieved with commercial air conditioning include, but are not limited to;

  • Acceptable Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
  • Decreased growth of bacteria
  • Shortened survival rates of viruses (including the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2)
  • Minimised spread infectious diseases (including COVID-19),
  • Improved health outcomes (for acute and chronic conditions)
  • Higher levels of staff satisfaction
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced staff sick days
  • Positive customer experiences
  • Likelihood of repeat business
  • Growing sales
  • Larger revenue and profit
  • Rise in operational performance
  • Strong business position resulting

Creating a comfortable work environment in commercial spaces is an important but often overlooked factor when it comes to customer experience, productivity, employee satisfaction and overall wellbeing.  Commercial air conditioning systems play a major role in creating such an environment.

With properly installed and maintained HVAC systems, employees and equipment benefit from productivity-enhancing temperature, humidity, and air quality.  Furthermore, having good aircon will help reduce dust, allergens, viruses, and bacteria, which can then reduce health problems for building occupants.  This ultimately affects customers and overall business success.  The reasons why commercial AC is important truly do stack up!


In the construction industry, there are a whole host of laws, Acts, codes, regulations, policies, requirements, standards, best practices, and recommendations surrounding air conditioning in the built environment.  This is especially true in relation to commercial HVAC.

Compliance officer in constuction industry

Achieve Compliance

Commercial air conditioning can help achieve and maintain compliance in a range of areas, include but not limited to;

  • Local and National Acts
  • Construction Codes
  • Building Regulations
  • Government Policy
  • Health Recommendations
  • Occupancy Conditions
  • National Standards
  • Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Legislation
  • Lease Agreements
  • Company Requirements
  • Best Practice Guidelines

Commercial AC is an important part of a building, and it’s essential for businesses to ensure they comply with all necessary legal requirements.  Not only does this help ensure safety and wellbeing in the workplace but also helps to reduce energy costs and increase efficiency.  Many of the outlined requirements are there to not only help building occupants, but also support the building owner and guide best practice.

Understand Compliance

It’s one thing to be given a list of what to consider in a commercial setting, but it’s another to understand and appreciate to role that commercial aircon plays.  To fully consider the legal and moral responsibilities that lay with business owners, a more detailed understanding is required in all areas:

Local and National Acts – These Acts outline the legal requirements for air conditioning construction and usage.  It’s important to understand what is required by law when it comes to air conditioners so that all installations are up to date with relevant regulations.  Ongoing maintenance must also comply with the latest version of each Act.

Construction Codes – Construction codes provide further information on regulations concerning installation permits, construction standards, and technical specifications that must be met during the process of constructing any kind of building, including the HVAC contained within it.

Building Regulations – Building regulations offer guidance on how energy efficient new buildings must be as well as outlining details on thermal insulation performance and ventilation requirements.

Government Policy – Government policies can vary depending on the region so business owners should make sure they look into their local government bodies for specific rules around air conditioning.

Health Recommendations – It’s important for companies to follow health recommendations when it comes to air quality as this can have a huge impact on employee health, both in the short and long-term.

Industrial factory

Occupancy Conditions – Understanding occupancy conditions can help owners decide which types of AC units would best suit each space or building type.  This takes into account the number of occupants, how the commercial space is used, heat load, etc.

National Standards – Adhering to National Standards ensures quality control across all areas of manufacturing.  The HVAC&R industry also has specific standards in most countries, such as AIRAH’s Design Application (DA) manuals providing Australian Standards for all thing air conditioning-related.

Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) Legislation – WHS legislation helps protect employees from any potential risks related to climate and temperature extremes in the workplaces.

Lease Agreements – Business owners should make sure they review any lease agreements in place prior to AC installation as these often contain clauses regarding acceptable use of equipment or noise levels associated with running machinery such as air conditioners or heat pumps.

Company Requirements – Fulfilling company requirements when it comes to comfort cooling systems ensures a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness for staff in each office space or venue type.

Best Practice Guidelines – When it comes to air conditioning it’s important to not only keep spaces comfortable but also ensure businesses are able fulfill responsible operating protocols that benefit everyone, from staff through to customers and visitors alike.

Positive Commercial Outcomes

Understanding the key areas of compliance outlined will ensure that businesses meet all relevant legal obligations when it comes commercial air conditioning.  At the same time, such consideration ensures workplace safety, productivity, continuity, and energy efficiency.

Failure to comply in any area can lead to a range of negative outcomes including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Minor issues such as excessive energy consumption and increased power bills.
  • Moderate issues such as decreased productivity and rise in absenteeism.
  • Serious issues such as permanent harm to human health and/or business shut down.

It’s important for a business owner to ensure they adhere to all commercial requirements, for everybody’s sake.  Failure to do so can lead to a range of negative consequences, as highlighted.  With some careful planning, commercial businesses can enjoy both maximum safety and purposeful effectiveness while minimising additional costs and unforeseen risks. 

Environment Preservation

Commercial air conditioning systems are a key component of the built environment.  Commercial AC helps to preserve structures and surfaces, support equipment performance, and save money on energy costs.

Built Environment Protection

Commercial HVAC keeps temperature and humidity levels within range for optimal human comfort and building maintenance.  Air conditioners help to reduce the amount of moisture in the air by cooling the air and removing excess water vapour.  High levels of humidity can cause mould and mildew to grow.  This then creates an unhealthy environment that is detrimental to building structures and internal surfaces.

Man with face protection

By controlling humidity levels within buildings, businesses can ensure safe conditions for not only staff but also the building itself.  Humidity can cause damage to buildings in a variety of ways.  With too much moisture, surfaces are prone to staining, wood and other organic material can rot, and mould and mildew may form.  This can cause physical damage to walls, furniture, and other items in the building.

Commercial AC systems also help maintain the temperature of machinery and equipment, ensuring that it is operating at peak performance and efficiency.  Investing in a reliable commercial AC system can save money in the long run by reducing expensive repairs and downtime.

Commercial aircon certainly helps business operations and reduce risk.  While the presence of suitable equipment is important, maintenance of such equipment is just as important.  This will in turn help to preserve your built environment.

Improved Efficiency & Energy-Savings

With commercial HVAC, businesses can significantly reduce energy costs by using energy-efficient air conditioning equipment.  Many systems have sensors that detect when people are in the building and automatically adjust the temperature accordingly to maximize efficiency.

Some AC units have built-in thermostats that ensure temperatures remain constant, reducing energy waste.  This helps to save natural resources as well as reducing carbon emissions.

Air conditioning can also have a positive impact on efficiency in the workplace by reducing strain on equipment and improving operational efficiency.  By keeping the air temperature at an optimal level, air conditioners reduce stress on electronic equipment, as well as the people operating it.  This results in less downtime and more output.

Smart AC systems also lead to reduced energy usage due to increased efficiency.  As most office cooling systems are not running on full-power all the time, they require less energy to keep a space cool.

Energy efficiency rating in building

Positive Commercial Outcomes

Commercial air conditioning has become a financially viable investment for many businesses looking to stay competitive in today’s market.

Air conditioning can have an unappreciated impact on the built environment, including but not limited to:

  • Increased building preservation
  • Increased efficiency of operational and electronic equipment
  • Increased reliability of equipment due to reduced workload
  • Increased building and equipment lifespan
  • Decreased equipment and employee downtime
  • Decreased building maintenance costs
  • Decreased equipment replacement costs
  • Decreased power usage and wastage
  • Decreased operational costs
  • Increased staff satisfaction
  • Increased productivity and output
  • Increased sales as more time enabled for sales activities
  • Decreased risk to business operations

With commercial aircon, businesses can ensure equipment and staff work efficiently while also saving money on electricity bills and reducing subsequent impact on the natural environment.  Win-Win-Win!

In order to ensure that your commercial space is comfortable for customers and employees alike, it is important to invest in a high-quality HVAC system that is suitable for how the business operates.  Then it is arguably even more critical to keep the AC equipment properly maintained.

Taking these steps will help create a healthier, happier commercial environment for everyone.  With its energy saving features and pollutant reduction capabilities, it’s no wonder why so many companies are now choosing commercial air conditioning over other heating and cooling methods.

How to choose the Best Commercial Air Conditioning for a business?

Deciding on the right air conditioning system for your business can be overwhelming.  There are so many options available, from water-cooled Central AC with chillers and cooling towers to Direct Expansion (DX) wall-mounted splits and ducted systems.  It’s important to weigh up all options before making a decision.

Business Needs

The first step in choosing a commercial AC system is understanding specific business needs.  Consider factors such as the size of the area/s, how the space/s will be used (including heat load), climate control requirements, efficiency, and budget.

Ducted or ductless air conditioning is a common consideration.  Once you have an idea of what you need, compare this to the different types of air conditioning systems available.

When designing HVAC systems, various parameters need to be taken into account such as comfort, building architecture, regulations, controls, redundancy, and flexibility.  System integration, energy efficiency and whole of life costs must also be considered when selecting a commercial air conditioning system, with focus on its purpose (e.g. comfort and reliability) over other parameters (e.g. energy efficiency).

Business people with commercial AC

Learn More

Once you’ve identified what type of AC system will work best for your business, it’s time to do some research.  Be sure to consider factors such as price, ongoing HVAC maintenance obligations, installation times, warranty coverage, and more, before making a decision.

It’s also important to seek reviews from other businesses who have used the same type of air conditioning system.  This can give you an idea of what kind of experience others have had with the product.

After doing some research on different types of systems, compare prices and features among multiple brands and models to determine which one will offer you the most value for money.  Daikin and Mitsubishi Electric are two popular options.

Consider how much energy each type uses and its overall efficiency rating.  This will help ensure that you get a product that works efficiently while saving money in the long run.

Ask An Expert

When selecting a commercial air conditioner for your business, it is always wise to contact an air conditioning contractor who can provide more information and advice on which unit/s would be best suited to your needs.

A reputable HVAC contractor can help answer any questions or concerns you might have about installation.   They can also discuss ongoing running costs, which can add up to more than the cost of the new system itself.  Such a discussion can help ensure you make an informed decision about which air conditioner is right for you.

Select Quality Install

Ensuring proper installation is key when installing any type of air conditioning system.  AC installation not only affects performance but also safety levels within the commercial space.  Furthermore, the initial install can positively or negatively impact energy efficiency over time.

A professional aircon installer should be able to correctly install all parts according to manufacturer specifications.  They can also advise on any additional components required to ensure optimal performance throughout the AC lifespan.

Commercial AC quality installation

Taking Care of the AC

Once an air conditioner is installed, the next step is to take care of it.  Routine maintenance of HVAC equipment is arguably even more important than selecting the best system for your building and commercial activities.

Proper maintenance and upkeep of commercial air conditioning units is essential for businesses to ensure safety, efficiency, and compliance.  Not only do properly serviced AC units keep preserve buildings, equipment, and product, but they can also improve health, productivity, and sales.  Failing to stay up to date with air conditioner maintenance may lead to unnecessary repairs, excessive energy consumption, and a range of negative business outcomes.

What are the Different Types of Commercial Air Conditioning available?

Finding the right AC system for your business is vital.  Depending on the size and type of facility, there are several different types of commercial air conditioning out there that can provide the heating and cooling capacity you need.

Air Conditioning Method

Firstly, it’s important to understanding exactly what air conditioning is.  Air conditioners work using the refrigeration cycle.  This involves heat in the air being captured and transferred between indoor and outdoor using refrigerant.

When cooling, heat is removed from the indoor air and released outdoors.  In the case of reverse cycle air conditioning, heat is transferred from the outdoor unit to the indoors.

In relation to cooling, the method of heat exchange with refrigerant can be conducted in two different ways:

  1. Centrally – Central AC Systems exchange heat with refrigerant in a central location (i.e. away from the area being cooled).
  2. Locally – Direct Expansion (DX) Systems exchanges heat with refrigerant at the point of air supply (i.e. in the area being cooled).

The decision between Central Air Conditioning and Decentralized DX Units is complex, involving various factors such as types, configuration, heat rejection options, applications, usage patterns, zoning, exposures, capacity control, environmental control, and temperature control.

Additionally, efficiency factors like fresh air ventilation control and energy monitoring need to be considered when comparing the two cooling methods.  It is recommended to consult an experienced commercial or industrial HVAC contractor when examining central plant compared to DX units.

Central Air Conditioning

Central HVAC is an efficient, effective way to condition large spaces and many structures like high-rise offices, airports, schools, etc.  It is often used when individual units in each room may not be cost-effective.

As outlined, central air conditioning refers to the source of cooling coming from a central location instead of near the air supply.  Central AC systems serve multiple spaces from one base in a building.  Cooling is typically distributed to fan coil units (FCU) via chilled water pipes.

The central air conditioning system consists of three subsystems: the chilled water plant, condenser water system/heat rejection system and air-delivery system.  Heat is often removed from water using a chiller, which utilises the refrigeration cycle within it.

Central air conditioning plant

The evaporator components remove heat and condenser components transfer that heat to the condenser water (water-cooled chiller) or outside air (air-cooled chiller).  Water-cooled chillers can use cooling towers in the condenser water portion.  The chilled air resulting from the central AC system is typically delivered to room/s using chilled water fan coil units (CWFCU).

Direct Expansion (DX) Air Conditioning

These are typically used for single-level complexes, homes, and small buildings.  There is a practical limitation to the length of refrigeration pipework, hence the use in smaller scale commercial buildings.

As outlined, direct expansion units cool air directly at the boundary of, or adjacent to, the room being conditioned.  Refrigerant passes through a local cooling coil within the unit serving the area directly or via ducts.

DX units are best suited for air conditioning individual thermal zones.  A thermal zone is a single area or group of areas within a structure that require similar indoor conditions.  Thermal zones should be controlled individually to ensure optimal comfort and performance.

Each thermal zone typically requires its own dedicated DX air conditioning unit.  This could apply to electronics-filled rooms with more heat loads than the rest of the office, meeting rooms with different occupancy levels throughout the week, treatment rooms in hospitals that require different conditions, and restaurant dining areas needing more moderate conditions compared to other areas.

Commercial AC Systems

Once the importance of air conditioning is appreciated, the individual business needs considered, and the method of cooling is assessed, the next step is to review the different types of commercial AC available.

Here are some of the popular commercial air conditioning system types:

Split System Air Conditioners

Split system air conditioners are ideal for businesses looking to keep a single room or area cool.  They consist of two units which work together; one unit sits outside while the other is placed inside the building.  Heat is transferred from one unit to the other using refrigerant, helping to reduce energy costs.

Indoor units typically sit on the wall (wall split systems), on the floor (floor-standing systems), on the ceiling (cassette type systems), in the ceiling (split ducted systems), or in a bulk-head (bulk-head units).  Alternatively, a combination of these locations may apply to the one system as part of a multi-head system.

Modern office interior with ducted air conditioning

Package Units

Packaged air conditioner units take up much less space than split systems as they contain all key components within a single unit.  This makes them well suited for buildings that have limited space, such as high rises or apartments complexes.  They make use of ducts and vents throughout the establishment to evenly distribute cool air.

VRF System Air Conditioners

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency and flexibility in cooling areas of various sizes.  These systems use an outdoor heat exchanger and multiple indoor units which each control temperature in separate zones.  This makes them ideal for large multi-room facilities like office buildings or warehouses that require separate temperature settings in each zone.

Regardless of what type of commercial facility you own, it’s important to understand the different types of commercial air conditioning available.  This helps enable an informed decision when reviewing AC units for your business.

Commercial air conditioning can be a great way to keep a business premises comfortable, productive, and energy efficient.  Commercial AC usually more critical than residential units and provides climate control for multiple rooms or areas with larger capacity in general.  Commercial systems are typically custom designed to suit the size and usage of the building, making sure each room has the correct temperature, humidity, and airflow.

Investing in an energy-efficient air conditioner can help reduce energy costs and carbon emissions from a commercial building, as well as providing employees with a healthy work environment.  Commercial AC is certainly a worthwhile investment to enhance customer satisfaction, productivity, equipment performance, profits, and overall business success.

The key points to remember with commercial air conditioning can be abbreviate as ICE BLAST AC:

Why is Commercial Air Conditioning important?

  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) & Comfort
  • Compliance
  • Environment Preservation

How to choose the Best Commercial Air Conditioning for a business?

  • Business Needs
  • Learn More
  • Ask An Expert
  • Select Quality Install
  • Taking Care of the AC

What are the Different Types of Commercial Air Conditioning available?

  • Air Conditioning Method
  • Commercial AC Systems

When considering the most suitable HVAC system for your business, just remember contact ICE BLAST AC today.