HVAC systems in a rental property are essential. When they don’t function as they should, both the tenants and the rental business suffer. Faulty HVAC systems cause tenant discomfort and dissatisfaction. That is because they create indoor air quality problems. Also, malfunctioning HVAC systems can predispose your rental property to fire and structural damage.
When rental property HVAC systems are inadequate, you will struggle to attract and keep tenants, warns RentEasy. Revenue from the property will fall while costs rise. Low-quality HVAC service can be the single reason why an investment property fails. That is why you should make sure the HVAC system you choose for the building is the right one.
There are two main types of HVAC systems; centralized HVAC and decentralized HVAC systems. Which one is suitable for your rental property?
Centralized HVAC Systems
These are appropriate in mid-rise or high-rise buildings. Here, all the system’s components are in one place, usually the mechanical room in the basement. In this central location, the generation of cooled or heated air occurs. After which, there is circulation to the other parts of the building.
The main challenge with this system is that there is no individualized temperature control; room occupants cannot adjust the room temperature. They are also more expensive to install. However, centralized HVAC systems are more efficient than decentralized units.
There are two main types of centralized units:
- Four-pipe systems: These have two insulated supply pipes and two insulated return pipes. They tend to cost more to install.
- Geothermal systems: These are the most efficient types of HVAC systems. The system relies on the difference between the temperature of the air and the ground to provide heating/cooling. They can lower the energy bill by 30%-70%.
Decentralized HVAC Systems
With decentralized HVAC systems, each unit in the building gets its heating and cooling system. The people in each component can choose their preferred temperature settings which is convenient. Installing a decentralized HVAC system is straightforward than installing a centralized one. But decentralized systems do not maximize efficiency; they have higher energy costs.
There are two types of decentralized HVAC systems:
Packaged terminal air conditioners or PTAC: A PTAC is commonly installed through an external wall or below a window. The system’s vents and heat sinks are partly outside and inside the building. Since a part of the system is exposed to the elements, they are from components that withstand the environment.
The main advantages of PTAC systems are:
- They are quiet compared to other options.
- Operating the system is easy, and changing the temperature settings straightforward.
Split systems: Unlike the packaged unit, split systems have one part of their components outdoors and the other inside the room. The inside elements are the heater, filter, and air-handling components, while the compressor and condenser are outside.
Because the sensitive electronic systems of a split unit are inside and sheltered from the elements, they tend to last longer. But their installation is more demanding and, therefore, costlier. They also take up more space.
Whether you choose split units or a packaged system, you will need a heating system. There are three options to choose from:
- Heat pumps: These have electrical heaters, which are part of the cooling system. The system switches from heating to cooling, as required. These systems cannot handle harsh winters.
- Furnace heaters: This is separate from the cooling system. It has a different furnace system that runs on gas or oil. But the heated air uses the same ducts as the air conditioner. It is suitable for places with cold winters.
- Dual fuel heating: These systems are best for areas with extremely cold winters. It has both the heat pump and furnace systems. The electric pump is appropriate when temperatures are not very low. The system switches to furnace heating at very low temperatures.
Ductless vs. ducted systems
Another way to look at HVAC systems is to classify them as duct or ductless.
Ducted systems need a network of ducts (made of metal sheet) to distribute air throughout the home. The ducts are in the walls and ceilings.
Ductless systems use direct air distribution; they don’t need ducts. Instead, there are blowers in every room for the circulation of the refrigerant.
The choice between buying a ductless or ducted system depends on:
- Relative humidity in the building: Ducted systems are better at controlling humidity.
- Airflow quality: Ducted systems provide better airflow because they control air movement throughout the entire building.
- Flexibility: When adding rooms to a house or extending the cooling system to an area like the garage, ducted systems may be rigorous and costly to expand.
- Aesthetics: Some tenants have problems with the presence of blowers in rooms.
- Space: Ductless systems are easier to install in buildings where there is no space for ductwork
- Decentralized control: Ductless systems let you create multiple cooling zones. That is because the occupant of each room can choose the temperature settings they want.