Architects collaborate with HVAC engineers on HVAC placement as they design the mechanical systems for homes. It matters because its location does make a difference in its energy efficiency and safety.
If space permits, the most convenient place for the furnace, or air handler unit (AHU) if it’s equipped with air conditioning, is in the basement of the home. The ductwork can branch up from the AHU in a central trunk, and divide into separate sections that supply each room.
The next best place for the AHU is in central hallway on the first floor of a single- or two-story home. Ideally it will have its own closet in a central corridor of the home, where the ducts can conveniently branch toward the rooms it has to.
The attic and the garage are the worst places for HVAC placement. Attics can be difficult to access and uncomfortable to work inside, and since it’s completely out of sight, easy to forget. The likelihood of forgetting to change the air filter is higher, and any unusual noises it makes may be inaudible since the insulation and structural components of the attic floor will block sound transmission.
It’s more common to see an AHU or furnace in the garage, but again, this is far from an ideal placement. Garages tend to be dusty and many have noxious gases from chemicals inside them, including deadly carbon monoxide.
Heat pumps and air conditioners use condensers that must be placed outdoors to vent the heat the refrigerant collects from the indoor air. Its ideal position is on the north side of the home where its solar exposure is limited, and away from trees, shrubs or vines that will drop their leaves on or near it. Heat from the sun and vegetation decrease the component’s efficiency, increasing cooling costs.
Ideally, the HVAC placement is an issue of the structure’s engineering and energy efficiency, although compromises are made occasionaly. To learn more, contact Arpi’s Industries, providing trusted HVAC services for homeowners in the Calgary area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC placement and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.