Commercial Replacement: Buy the Whole HVAC System or Just the Unit?
Eventually, it’s going to happen: your commercial HVAC system is going to fail so badly that repair is not an option. If you’re facing the prospect of replacing a complete commercial heating or cooling system, you might be concerned about the cost. To save money, you might be considering replacing just one unit: the indoor components or the outdoor unit. While this seems like a good way to save money, it can actually be a significant mistake costing you more in the long run. Here are some good reasons why you should replace the entire HVAC system rather than just the unit.
- Proper performance requires matched components: Modern heating and cooling systems such as heat pumps and commercial air conditioners are technologically sophisticated. Both indoor and outdoor units are designed to work together to provide efficient, effective performance. If the components in one unit aren’t matched to the other, the system may not work properly. In some cases, it may not even work at all.
- Mismatched components could affect system efficiency: Today’s HVAC systems provide high levels of efficiency, saving significant amounts of energy and money. Even “standard” systems are significantly more efficient than those from 10 or 20 years ago. If you replace only one unit and try to combine it with a newer, more efficient set of components, the system won’t be able to attain the level of efficiency it’s designed to reach. You’ll end up losing money every month on your heating or cooling bills.
- New and old components may be incompatible: When you install a new HVAC system, you have the opportunity to correct any errors that may have been made with the previous system. For example, if your previous heating or cooling system was improperly sized — had too much or too little functional capacity — you now have the opportunity to put in a system that provides what you need without being wasteful or insufficient. If you try to combine old and new components by replacing only one part of your existing system, you may run into significant problems with compatibility between the units. This is likely to reduce system performance and may be severe enough to eliminate any of the benefits you expect from the new equipment.
- Ductwork may not be sufficient: The ductwork in your HVAC system is a critical component. Without ductwork, the heated or cooled air the equipment produces will have nowhere to go. If you only replace one of the HVAC system units, your existing ductwork may not be properly sized to accommodate the resulting air flow. If the ductwork is too small, it won’t be able to handle enough air to provide proper indoor heating or cooling. If it is too large, it may allow air and energy loss. When you replace your HVAC system, make sure the ductwork is compatible with the new equipment.
- Warranties won’t cover older components: New HVAC systems come with warranties that will cover only the newer parts. If you replace only one unit, the warranty will not apply to the other, older unit. This could lead to headaches down the road if you need to take advantage of the warranty. It is also possible that mixing older and newer units could void a warranty on the newer equipment.
- Financial incentives require replacing entire system: The federal government and many states currently offer substantial financial incentives for installing certain types of HVAC equipment. Energy-saving systems such as high-efficiency heat pumps or air conditioners are common targets of money-saving rebates, tax credits, and other incentives. It is usually necessary to replace the entire HVAC system to quality for these breaks on HVAC equipment cost.
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