Which type of HVAC system is best for your rental property is the rental property maintenance checkup this week provided by Keepe.
The type of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system that you install in your multifamily property is an important decision that will have long-term implications.
There are several options, depending on factors such as the size of the property and your energy-efficiency needs. Also do your tenants respond better to a centralized system? Or a decentralized system that gives them individual-unit control?
Consider the following centralized and decentralized HVAC systems that offer both heating and cooling as you update or begin your HVAC development.
Centralized vs. Decentralized HVAC Units
Both centralized and decentralized HVAC systems provide key elements that aid multifamily property management. HVAC systems are often easy to maintain, give tenants in-unit control that maximizes comfort, and allow for flexibility when handling peak demand.
Centralized HVAC Systems
Centralized HVAC systems are supported from a central location such as a mechanical room in the basement of the building. Centralized systems tend to run more efficiently than decentralized HVAC systems. On the other hand, installation costs run higher, which make this ideal for a larger property that would be considered mid-rise or high-rise.
Most common types of centralized HVAC systems:
- Four-pipe systems: This system includes four insulated pipes, two supply and two return lines. One is set to chilled water while the other is dedicated to hot. The pipes run to air handlers, which use the needed water to change the air temperature. The air handlers can be kept in mechanical rooms or in spaces above the ceiling. These systems are expensive to install, but run efficiently.
- Geothermal systems: Geothermal systems are one of the most efficient types of HVAC systems. This rental heating-and-cooling system transfers heat from the ground. The system relies on heat transfers between the air and the ground to provide heating and cooling to units. Geothermal heat pumps are considered a form of high-efficiency heat pump. Although the upfront costs are high, geothermal HVAC systems can cut utility bills by 30 to 70 percent.
Decentralized HVAC Systems
Decentralized HVAC systems are compartmentalized, meaning that each unit in the building receives separate heating and cooling. Decentralized systems are more cost-effective to install, but most lack maximum efficiency.
Most common types of decentralized HVAC systems:
- Packaged thermal air conditioner: This HVAC option is a self-contained heating-and-air-conditioning system. PTCAs are designed to go through a wall, having vents and heat sinks both inside and outside the building, requiring comprehensive installation. This forced-air system unit tends to have a shorter life cycle, and is not very efficient when compared to alternatives.
- Self-contained systems: These systems are forced-air systems that deliver heating and cooling to individual units. These packaged systems are installed in each unit, allowing easy access in cases where HVAC services are required. In addition to being energy-efficient, these systems are easier and less expensive to install and convenient for properties with a smaller unit capacity.
In addition to a high-effect HVAC system, other factors in your property — such as sealing heating and cooling ductwork — can instantly optimize a system.
Smart control sensors are also a great high-tech tool to monitor HVAC performance and maintenance needs that could help you optimize your HVAC performance.
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Keepe is an on-demand maintenance solution for property managers and independent landlords. The company makes a network of hundreds of independent contractors and handymen available for maintenance projects at rental properties. Keepe is available in the Greater Seattle area, Greater Phoenix area, San Francisco Bay area, Portland, San Diego and is coming soon to an area near you. Learn more about Keepe at https://www.keepe.com