Commercial properties are usually larger than single-family houses. The average home in South Dakota has 1,984 square feet, whereas the average office building built in the United States within the past two decades has 19,000 square feet. The average shopping mall is ten times larger than that. You don’t need an HVAC PHD from Harvard to know that cooling a larger space demands a relatively larger air conditioning system.

Commercial properties also contain more people, which necessitates more efficient air circulation. Furthermore, a commercial AC system must accommodate the many different types of activities that can take place at the property: cooking, dining, manufacturing, and people frequently opening and closing exterior doors to name a few.

All of this is to say that commercial properties require more complex AC systems than single-family residences. As a Sioux Falls HVAC contractor, we’re experienced at maintaining, repairing and installing the AC systems commercial property managers need to keep their staff and guests comfortable all summer long. Here are the six types of AC systems commercial properties feature most frequently.


Single-split System

One compressor. One evaporator coil. One interior unit, and just as many exterior units – the single-split system is the simplest commercial AC system you can choose for your property.

With its simplicity comes limitations: a single-split system is suitable for the smallest commercial spaces, such as cafes, small restaurants, shops and boutiques, single-room offices and server rooms. When a commercial property encompasses multiple rooms – or different levels of cooling are required within – a single-split system can no longer accommodate occupants’ needs.


Multi-split System

The “multi” in “multi-split” refers to the system’s number of indoor units. A single outdoor unit circulates liquid refrigerant to all of those indoor units, allowing each of those units to produce cool air in accordance with different occupants’ preferences.

Multi-split AC systems are impractical for single-room and smaller commercial settings. To install one in a coffee shop would make as much sense as installing two AC units in a single sedan. But when you need to efficiently circulate cool air through a building that can contain multiple closed doors, the multi-split system may very well represent your best option.


Constant Air Volume (CAV) System

Like its name implies, a CAV system supplies a steady, uninterrupted supply of cool air into the commercial property – but that air supply’s temperature is varied to meet the interior space’s thermal load.

CAV systems are ideally suited to smaller properties, although they also work well in properties with single large open spaces such as auditoriums and basketball courts. CAV systems are becoming increasingly rare in larger commercial properties thanks primarily to the greater energy efficiency offered by variable air volume systems.


Variable Air Volume (VAV) System

Whereas a CAV system constantly supplies air flow, a VAV system varies the amount of air it circulates into the building. A VAV system also differs from a CAV system because the air it supplies remains at a constant temperature. Essentially, the differences between CAV and VAV look like this:

  • CAV: Constant air flow, varying temperatures
  • VAV: Varying air flow, constant temperature

VAV systems are best suited for commercial properties with multiple rooms, as they allow occupants to separately cool different areas of the buildings. In addition to offering greater energy efficiency, VAV systems excel over CAV systems by creating less noise and providing passive dehumidification.


Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) System

Also known as a variable refrigerant volume (VRV) system, a VRF system utilizes refrigerant as its cooling medium. The refrigerant is conditioned by one or more condensing units and then circulated to the building’s multiple indoor units. Because it has multiple indoor units instead of a central air handler, a VRF system requires a series of narrow pipes for installation instead of larger ductwork.

VRF systems are highly versatile, especially as their installation does not necessitate creating convoluted networks of ducts. Virtually any commercial space may be served best by a VRF system, although its advantages cannot show themselves in properties comprised of large, single rooms such as assembly spaces.


Heat Pump System

True to its name, a heat pump system forcibly removes hot air from the interior of the building and relocates it outdoors. It may alternatively move heat inside from the outdoors, which makes it a versatile climate control system. But if you own or manage a commercial property in Sioux Falls, a heat pump system isn’t feasible. It is far too inefficient in climates where the temperature regularly dips below 40 °F.



Picking the best AC system for your commercial property in Sioux Falls, SD only seems like an intimidating task until you contact Haugan Heating and Air Conditioning. Our expert team is standing by to explain the relative merits of each type of commercial AC system and help you conclude which one represents the greatest value for your property!