Unitary Centralized Hvac

Unitary vs. centralized HVAC systems

Office buildings smaller than 20,000 square feet typically use factory-built, air-cooled “unitary” HVAC equipment. Buildings larger than 100,000 square feet and multibuilding campuses generally use site-assembled or engineered “centralized” HVAC systems. Buildings with a square footage between 20,000 and 100,000 square feet may employ a combination of multiple large packaged units (for example, one unit
per wing of an office building) or small built-up systems. Performance comparisons between unitary and engineered systems, or among systems of either type, should consider the performance of the entire system, rather than just the chiller or the condensing unit.1
The principal advantages of central HVAC systems are higher energy efficiency, greater load-management potential, fewer and higher-quality components that require less (but more skilled) maintenance and architectural and structural simplicity. The main advantages of unitary systems are lower initial costs, independent zone control, lower failure risk and less floor space occupied by a mechanical room, ducts
and pipes.2

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