A Guide to Choosing the Right Commercial HVAC System 

Choosing the ideal heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system for a commercial property begins with selecting the best HVAC professional. 

Commercial HVAC is large, complex, expensive, and geared toward building occupancy, type, and activity. Some HVAC equipment, such as furnaces and boilers, straddles the commercial and residential realms. Other systems, including rooftop chillers and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) units, are unique to commercial buildings. All require professional maintenance, repair, and installation. 

Whether you own a small retail building or manage a shopping complex, you need professional guidance when selecting a commercial HVAC system. HVAC expertise and experience are essential for choosing the best unit for your building’s layout, size, heating and cooling needs, and budget. 

HVAC Dealer Directory

Our Commercial Cooling Center directory gives building owners and managers options for selecting a reputable commercial HVAC team. We work with a network of Carrier Factory Authorized Dealers in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Texas that consistently work with commercial HVAC units.

Your first step in selecting HVAC for new construction or as a retrofit in an existing building is choosing a professional through our Find a Dealer link. Here are a few considerations to discuss with your commercial HVAC services provider before installing a new system: 

Building Size and Layout

You and your HVAC professional will consider square footage, number of floors, and diversity of spaces, such as offices and conference rooms. The activities that happen in your building will help drive the decision-making. For example, a small retail store with just two or three rooms has different cooling needs than a similar-sized building containing a laboratory and computer room. 

A building with many offices or rooms might benefit from a zoned HVAC system that offers individualized temperature control in each heated and cooled space. A one-room warehouse space likely does not need zoning and would benefit from a different system.  

Layout and size also help determine space requirements for new HVAC equipment. Will your new equipment fit into your mechanical room, or should it be moved outdoors? Can it be installed on the roof, or must it remain on the ground?

Energy Efficiency

Examine your goals for system performance. The more energy-efficient the unit, the more it benefits your bottom line. Commercial HVAC systems are major energy consumers, but an efficient unit can minimize environmental impact and reduce utility costs. 

The heating source you choose, whether gas or electric, will factor into equipment efficiency. Local climate also informs your decision. 

Implementing an automated control system to manage your building’s HVAC can cut energy use and costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), commercial properties can cut energy use by an average of 29 percent by correctly programming and maintaining automated controls.


An HVAC professional should be able to easily access your heating and cooling system for maintenance and repairs, no matter where it is. Consult with your Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer about maintenance frequency. Set up a schedule of preventative tune-ups. Consider a long-term maintenance agreement. 


Every commercial building needs good ventilation to enhance the health of its occupants. Ventilation can even improve employee productivity. Ask your HVAC professional which equipment fulfills your ventilation needs. You may benefit from an HVAC system with high-efficiency HVAC filters or need mechanical ventilation, such as an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). 

Equipment Types

Become familiar with a few commercial heating and cooling systems: 

  • Packaged rooftop units (RTUs) are commonly used on flat rooftops of buildings that need heating and cooling in a single zone. These systems bring heating and cooling functions together in one cabinet. Packaged units are compact and require less space than a split system. They are easy to install and access for maintenance. Packaged units also can be installed on the ground outside your building.
  • Variant Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems enable you to customize heating and cooling throughout your building, making them perfect solutions for office buildings, multifamily residences, and hotels. A VRF system is similar to a ductless heat pump but allows simultaneous heating and cooling in a building.  
  • Chillers have long been HVAC workhorses in large buildings, such as schools, manufacturing facilities, and office buildings. Carrier is an industry leader in chiller technology, offering air-cooled and water-cooled models that offer cooling or both heating and cooling. 
  • Water-source heat pumps provide efficient heating and cooling by using a nearby body of water or a cooling tower to transfer heat to and from your building. 

Schedule a Consultation Today

Whether you need a new HVAC system, a retrofit, or automated controls, a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer can recommend the perfect solution for your heating and cooling needs. Our Commercial Cooling Center network of experienced and expert HVAC teams works with commercial customers in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Texas. Click our Find a Dealer link to start.