Commercial architects and contractors have a range of space-heating options at their disposal to balance building owners’ demand for comfort, energy efficiency, affordability, and reliability. Boilers and rooftop units (RTUs) are two of the most common solutions, and they’ve been joined in recent years by variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems, often as a supplementary source of heat. Each of these types of heating systems offers a unique set of benefits, Joanna Turpin writes in ACHR News. Boilers, for instance, are more technically advanced in terms of efficiency and controls, Syed Shahzer, commercial trainer for Bosch Thermotechnology, tells Turpin. (To learn more about commercial propane boilers, check out the high-efficiency boilers fact sheet.)

“Updated controls technology allows the condensing boiler to adjust to the needs of its respective users and heat the building per their comfort requirements,” he said. “Boilers can also adapt to outdoor weather and have the ability to heat different heating segments/elements per their requirements.”

Today’s RTUs, meanwhile, can modulate indoor air quality and comfort levels greater than in the past by incrementally controlling the airflow, heater, and refrigerant volume. And VRF systems offer flexible installation options such as hybrid systems that incorporate propane or gas heating. Ike Beyer, president of Integrated HVAC Systems & Services, tells Turpin he likes to combine gas-fueled hot water baseboards to wash the building perimeter with heat and use VRF as auxiliary heat.

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