Why Traditional HVAC Systems Won’t Work Well for Restaurants
There are many similarities among HVAC systems and equipment, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every HVAC application. This is particularly true when designing, planning and installing HVAC solutions for restaurants and other food-service operations. The unique and often polluted environment, the temperature demands and the need for plentiful ventilation mean that traditional HVAC systems will not work well for heating and cooling a commercial establishment where food is prepared and sold. The following tips can help you create and install heating and cooling equipment, with modifications and additional components, that will meet the specific needs of a food-service establishment:
More on Restaurant-Specific Challenges
- Pollution and contamination – Restaurants produce an especially large number of airborne pollutants that could affect the performance of an HVAC system. This does not mean that the food and drink prepared in any given restaurant is polluted or contaminated. It means that byproducts of cooking and serving food can make their way into an HVAC system and adversely affect its performance. These substances can include inordinate amounts of smoke, grease, food particles and cleaning materials. These materials can produce odors, interfere with airflow, and degrade heating and cooling functions.
- Temperature demands fluctuate significantly – Restaurant kitchens can be extremely hot, requiring substantial amounts of cooling from the HVAC system to keep the kitchen area at a tolerable level for the employees working there. At the other end of the spectrum, kitchens may require heating from the HVAC equipment during slow times or at the beginning or end of the day. Restaurant HVAC systems must be flexible enough to provide this variable level of conditioning in the kitchen without either overheating or overcooling. The HVAC equipment must also be able to provide heating and cooling to the kitchen without affecting temperatures in customer areas such as lobbies, restrooms or dining areas.
- Ventilation processes are inefficient – Standard HVAC equipment brings in outdoor air to provide ventilation and replace exhaust air. In most cases, though, the air is inappropriate for maintaining indoor comfort. For example, in the winter, cold air can be brought in, which will affect indoor temperatures and heating system operation. Ventilated air can also contain moisture, which can increase what is likely an already high level of humidity inside the restaurant. To reach the temperature required for efficient and effective conditioning, the air must be heated or cooled, and the humidity must be removed by the HVAC system. Considerable amounts of money and energy are wasted during this two-step ventilation and air conditioning process.
Designing and Installing HVAC Systems for Restaurants
If you are designing, building or renovating a restaurant, look for specialized commercial HVAC systems that offer the following functions and characteristics:
- Variable exhaust controls: Kitchen hoods and exhaust systems with variable controls function according to the large-scale cooking loads of a kitchen. During downtime, the controls reduce the function of the exhaust equipment, reducing energy use and decreasing wear on the equipment.
- Kitchen airflow reduction: Specialized HVAC systems can reduce the airflow in the kitchen by almost half. This decreased airflow means that the fan will use less energy, resulting in additional savings on electricity bills. The calmer and more consistent airflow throughout the kitchen also will cut down on air movement that can affect the performance and effectiveness of exhaust hoods.
- Temperature control through ventilation: During favorable weather conditions, specialized kitchen HVAC and ventilation equipment can use ventilated air to control indoor temperatures. When temperatures rise or fall to preset levels, the heating or cooling system will automatically activate and provide mechanical conditioning.
- Outside air conditioning before entering the kitchen: Specialized kitchen HVAC equipment will ensure outside air is properly and optimally warmed or cooled before the air enters the kitchen. Air temperature and humidity levels will be adjusted as needed to provide the best level of comfort at the lowest energy usage levels.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on restaurant-specific HVAC systems, contact Sobieski.