Guide to commercial heating systems

Any business owner knows, one of the biggest costs at this time of year is utility bills. As winter gets in full swing, we’re tasked with lighting workspaces and keeping employees warm and comfortable during the colder months.

It is important that you have the right commercial heating system to heat the space efficiently and effectively. There are a number of different options available to business owners, so it can be challenging to know which one to choose without having all of the information to hand.

The Electrical Guys team has created this guide to commercial heating systems, so you can make an informed decision about the right heating type for your business.

Different types of commercial heating

As a business owner, there are a number of commercial heating systems you can choose from, depending on your circumstances and requirements. The four most common types are as follows:

Natural, sustainable and renewable commercial heating

What is it?
Commercial heating powered by renewable energy sources such as solar power.

How do these commercial heating systems work?
Renewable commercial heating systems work by using the natural resources available to us. These renewable energy sources include:

  • Solar panels
  • Biomass – burning organic matter such as wood or plant-based materials
  • Hydroelectricity – water power
  • Wind

These fuel types are converted into energy, which is then used to heat a boiler, which distributes heated water and heats the building.

As the fuel sources are natural and sustainable, this type of system has real longevity, as it’s based on a fuel source will never run out!
As an added benefit, the government runs a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which encourages the installation of renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. Find out more here.

Choose this option if:

  • You are trying to choose a more environmentally-friendly way to heat your business
  • You have funds for the initial setup, and you want to see a good return on investment
  • You are looking for affordable monthly payments
  • You have aspirations for a long-term, sustainable energy solution for your organisation

Steam heating systems (oil or gas)

What is it?
Fossil fuels boil water, creating steam that moves around pipes to heat a premises.

How do these commercial heating systems work?
Oil or gas is used to heat water in a boiler. The water turns to steam, which then passes through pipes into the radiators, and in turn heats the building. As the system cools, the steam condenses, and travels back into the tank as water.

There are two types of commercial steam heating systems – one-pipe or two-pipe systems. One-pipe systems contain automatic air vents that allow steam to pass through into radiators without a pump. Two-pipe-systems work in a similar way, but use a pump to push the steam through the system.

Choose this option if:

  • You want an effective method of heat transfer (steam is particularly reliable)
  • You require a reliable, durable system that will last the test of time
  • You have a more historic, or older building, as this system will likely work effectively with the infrastructure already in place
  • You want to avoid any potential leaks that can sometimes be found in older water heating systems

Water heating systems (oil or gas)

What is it?
Working in a similar way to steam systems, fossil fuels boil water which heats your building.

How do these commercial heating systems work?
Typically, these systems begin with water that is held in a tank. Cold water is fed into the bottom of the tank, which is then heated by the fuel source in the tank (the most common fuel that’s used us gas, but oil and electricity can also be used). A pipe sits at the top of the tank, takes the heated water from the boiler, and distributes it around the building and into the radiators.

As a safety feature, the boilers are equipped with pressure and temperature relief valves, to stop either going above a safe level.

Choose this option if:

  • You would like almost instant access to hot water whenever you need it
  • You want clean, dust-free heating
  • You would like a quiet system of operation – the distribution of hot water heating is almost silent, unlike some pressurised alternatives
  • You have the time for scheduling regular maintenance. Correctly maintained, hot water boilers can last for decades

Heat pumps

What is it?
A system that re-distributes hot air from one location to another.

How do these commercial heating systems work?
Heat pumps work by absorbing heat from the air outside your premises into a liquid. The liquid is then compressed, which increases the temperature, which is then transferred to your heating system.

The heat can be distributed into your business in two ways. It can either be used to heat a water heating system (as above), or it can be used to distribute warm air into your premises through a fan.

Choose this option if:

  • You don’t have the time to conduct regular maintenance
  • You prioritise reliability, and want system with excellent levels of safety
  • You are looking for a more energy-efficient option for your business, with the potential to cut costs
  • You would like to make a more environmentally-friendly choice, and reduce the carbon footprint of your business

We hope this guide to commercial heating systems has helped you to understand the different types of system available to your business, and provided advice on what you should choose. If you need more advice on your business utilities, our team has also created a guide to commercial lighting for different venues which you may also find useful.