The Ultimate Guide to HVAC Systems for Rental Properties

HVAC systems are a necessity for any rental property and a major investment for the landlord. T-Square Real Estate, Inc. explains that the type of HVAC system you install in a rental has serious implications on:

  • The effectiveness of your rental’s cooling and heating systems.
  • The relative comfort of your tenants and how long they are willing to stay in the home.
  • The overall cost of maintaining the HVAC and longevity of the system.

These will ultimately affect your property in terms of how much profit it makes. This is why choosing the HVAC system for a rental property is not something to be rushed.

In as much as short-term cost considerations are important, you should also give attention to the long-term effects of the HVAC on the success of your investment.

To make a good decision on what kind of HVAC system to use in your rental, you need as much information as you can find on the available systems.

This short guide provides you with that information. Below you will find a list of the different HVAC systems you may use in a rental property, along with their pros and cons.

HVAC systems for rental properties

Guide to HVAC systems for rental properties

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It encapsulates everything that goes into keeping the internal temperature of a rental at the desired level across the seasons.

The HVAC system also ensures good indoor air quality for the property. The two main parts of an HVAC system are heating and cooling.

Types of heating systems

Types of heating systems

– Forced air systems

This is the most common heating system found in rental properties. Forced air systems heat the air centrally before distributing the heated air throughout the home using ducts. To heat the air, gas, electricity, or heating oil is used. Systems that use gas and electricity are more common.

In a gas system, a flame heats the heat exchanger to warm the air passing it over it before that air is sent throughout the home. A major issue with gas systems is making sure that the carbon monoxide produced is not vented into the home. Carbon monoxide detectors are a must when you use these types of systems.

The electrical system works similarly but in place of gas, electricity is used to heat the heating element which in turn heats the surrounding air. Electrical systems are very easy to maintain but the major issue with them is the high electricity bills you and your tenants will have to deal with.

– Boiler systems

Boiler systems heat water and distribute either the hot water or steam via a system of pipes to provide heating across the entire home. These types of systems are mostly found in older multifamily units. They are rarely used in newer buildings due to the difficulty of moving from heating to cooling.

They work best for rental properties in regions where the temperatures stay cold for really long periods of time. But if the rental property is in a location where tenants need cooling during the day but will want to switch to heating at night, this is not the most efficient system to have. 

– Heat pump system

Heat pumps are similar to forced air systems in that they also use heated air. But heat pumps do not work in the same way as forced air systems. Heat pump systems use the same operation as a refrigerator.

They extract heat from one location and transfer it to another location, thereby heating or cooling the space.

Heat pump systems are very efficient but are more expensive to install than other heating systems. The major advantage of a heat pump system is it can be used for both heating and cooling. In summer they pump heat from the house and transfer it outside and then do the reverse in winter.

Types of air conditioning systems

Types of air conditioning systems

– Window units

From the point of view of tenants, these are probably the worst air conditioning systems. That’s because window units are not pretty, and they are quite noisy. Also, they don’t cool as efficiently as split systems or central AC systems.

However, they are cost-efficient and easy to maintain – they are not hard to remove or costly to repair – which is why landlords may prefer them.

– Split systems

A split system comprises a condensing unit outside the home with an air handler inside. The air handler pushes the conditioned air into the home, while cooling is done by the outdoor unit.

Split systems are more energy-efficient than window units and let you create temperature zones within an apartment. But they are more expensive and harder to install. They are costlier to maintain than a window unit.

– Central air conditioning

You get the most cooling with a central air conditioning system. But the first issue with these systems is you need a lot of space for the air handler.

The other problem is that you need to run ducts through the entire home to use central air conditioning. This means additional construction and more money spent.

Lastly, central air conditioning does not include options for choosing individual temperature settings for rooms.

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