Heating a commercial building where people work or relax is important for creating a comfortable environment, preventing condensation, carrying out activities such as cooking and drying, and for industrial processes. Commercial heating systems are different from residential ones because they cover far more square footage and have different considerations to take into account.

A residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is only required to heat or cool a small family dwelling with relatively static needs. A commercial HVAC system serves a larger space and may also be divided into different offices or departments that have different heating or cooling requirements. The options for heating a large commercial space come down to two options: radiant or warm air. The following explanations will explain the different types of system in more detail.

Warm air heating

A warm air space heating system uses a fan to draw air across a heat exchanger, which is a system used to transfer heat between two or more fluids, thereby heating the air and distributing it throughout the space evenly. This makes it an ideal method for spaces where a constant temperature is required throughout the building. The heat source for the warm air can be an electric element, hot water circulated through the heat exchanger or an oil or gas fired burner.

The actual heaters can be mounted on walls, stand on the floor or be suspended in the ceiling above the space being heated. Floor standing models are flexible in that they can either use nozzles to direct the heat within the immediate area, or be connected to a ductwork system to distribute the air across a larger area. The correct choice for each space depends on the layout of the space and the floor area available. For example, if floor space is limited a suspended system may be the most appropriate choice.

Destratification heating

Destratification heating uses the process of thermal destratification, which means the mixing of a buildings internal air to eliminate stratified layers of heat and create an equal temperature throughout all areas. In any space, heat will rise to the ceiling, make it harder to heat high ceilinged buildings at floor level where people usually occupy them. This results in wasted energy and a building that is cold and uncomfortable.

The solution to this is to use destratification fans to recirculate the warm air so that the temperature both a floor level and ceiling level returns to correct level. The fans are usually combined with warm air heating to ensure that the warm air produced doesn’t just sit in the ceiling or roof area.

Air rotation heating

Air rotation heating moves large quantities of air at a controlled temperature and a low speed. Cooler air from below the heater is constantly drawn through it, causing destratification and creating a level temperature. This means that destratification fans in the ceiling are not necessary as the air is already being circulated. In most cases a single heater can provide wall to wall and floor to ceiling warmth without the need for costly ductwork to direct the heat around the building.

Air rotation heating is a good solution for spaces such as warehouses or distribution centres that require constant background temperatures or frost protection. The uniform temperature provided by air rotation also eliminates the risk of condensation forming on stored materials and moisture damage. The installation cost of rotation heating is low because there is no need for a complicated duct system to be fitted, and they are economical to run once in situ due to the fuel that is conserved by using heat normally trapped in the ceiling. The floor mounted controls make it an easy system to maintain and the heaters are relatively quiet compared to other heating systems.

Radiant heating

Radiant heating is the effect you feel from the warmth of a stovetop or radiator from across a room. Translated into commercial heating, it usually means radiant tubes or radiant plaque heaters suspended from a roof or ceiling. Heat energy is emitted from the hot surfaces of the heaters in the form of infrared radiation, which heats the people and objects exposed to it, without directly warming the air. The people and objects, including the floor, act as secondary heaters and raise the temperature further. The air temperature in a building with radiant heating is lower than in a warm air heated space, but people will feel comfortable as long as they are in direct line of the heat source.

If people are shielded from the heat source by equipment, shelving or walls, they will no longer feel the benefit of the heat, which imposes limitations on the layout of the working space and also means the layout isn’t flexible should it need to be changed at a later date. The main benefit of radiant heating is that is the reduced loss of heat in areas with doors that are opened regularly, such as loading bays. This is because objects that have been heated by radiant heating stay continue to stay warm even after a door is opened.

The type of heating system needed for your commercial premises depends on the space you have and what it’s used for, whether that’s storage, manufacture, office space or another purpose. For more information or to discuss your commercial heating system requirements, get in touch with us at Invictus Mechanical.