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Understanding Tonnage in Commercial Systems

covered-commercial-hvac-fansThe language of commercial HVAC often sounds strange to people who aren’t in the field—something that’s true of almost any specialized field. But our commercial HVAC experts take pride in working closely with all our customers. It’s one of the reasons most of our customers stay with us for life. We want you to understand what’s happening with your HVAC equipment and what it all means. That way we can maintain great communication that keeps you in the loop.

One example of commercial HVAC lingo you have heard before is tonnage, as in “How much tonnage does a business need for proper climate control?” This sounds like we’re talking about the weight of an HVAC system, but we’re not. Tonnage refers to the cooling and heating capacity of a rooftop HVAC unit or other heat pump/air conditioning system. Finding the ideal tonnage for a commercial or industrial facility is a key part of the work we do.

What Tonnage Means

Most commercial facilities use a rooftop packaged HVAC unit to handle heating and cooling. These are types of heat pump systems that circulate refrigerant to move heat from one place to another: in heating mode, the heat is moved from outdoors to the indoors, and in cooling mode the process reverses. The power of this type of HVAC unit is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. One BTU is equal to the heat necessary to change the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. A simple window air conditioning unit can move about 5,000 BTUs of heat from a home in an hour. Commercial systems are much more powerful, which is why it’s easier to use a larger measurement to describe their heating and cooling abilities: the ton.

One ton of heating or cooling power is equal to 12,000 BTUs. The reason this unit is called a ton is because this is the heat energy necessary to melt a ton of ice over an hour.

How Much Tonnage Your Commercial Facility Requires

The tonnage range for commercial air conditioners and heaters is immense. While most homes use systems between 1.5 to 5 tons, commercial systems come in units of 10, 25, and 50 tons. A larger facility may use multiple 50-ton units to provide it with proper heating and cooling.

This is why you must always work with experienced commercial HVAC contractors when it’s time to have heating and air conditioning installation or replacement. Only a contractor with training and experience can determine the right tonnage to maintain the environment necessary for comfort, process, and to protect equipment. Too much or too little tonnage can spell serious trouble leading to high costs to replace equipment that can’t do the job.

Rely on our technicians and they’ll work closely with you to find out your facility’s specific needs. Using a heat load calculation, they’ll determine exactly how your facility traps and/or produces heat and use this information to determine the proper tonnage.

For commercial heating and air conditioning service in Toronto, ON, we’re the contractor to look to.

Advantage Airtech Commercial Ltd. serves the Greater Toronto Area.

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