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Heat pumps for light commercial: things to consider when choosing one for a gym

HVAC systems are typically used in light commercial buildings to provide the right level of comfort to both customer and employees occupying those buildings.

But what are light commercial buildings?  Huge warehouses, industrial plants or refineries, are certainly not considered light commercial buildings, while retail space, small offices, restaurants, fitness centers or other similarly sized businesses fall into the category.

In this kind of buildings, HVAC systems have an important role as every of those businesses need to make sure the customer experience is on point, also from a comfort perspective. For this reason, in this article we feel there are aspects it is important to consider when designing a HVAC system for light commercial buildings.

In this article we are taking a 24h gym or fitness club as an example, to see what might be worth considering when choosing a chiller or a heat pump in the design phase of a HVAC system for this kind of building.

Fitness facilities are a uniquely challenging environments for HVAC systems because large group of people exercising cause heat to be released, determining a rise in room temperature. Sweat produced via exercise evaporates into the air, raising humidity levels. These factors all challenge the HVAC system and need to be considered.

Choosing the right technology to meet the needs of the building

A 24h gym absolutely needs cooling and heating, depending on the season, to create the comfort customers need while training. But this kind of building also needs hot sanitary water to meet the necessities customers might have at the end of their workout. All of that with a heat pump in a capacity range

  • that makes sense for the size of the building
  • that can meet the footprint constraints the HVAC plant might present
  • and finally, that can ensure highly energy efficiency as well

Load variation

Also, 24h gyms’ load can typically vary, not only depending on the outdoor temperature variation during the day, but also depending on the occupancy of the facility, which might change based on the time of the day or in case of particular events. That has a significant impact on the energy efficiency of the building. So, it is important that the variation in load demand of the building is taken into account and is addressed with proper solutions. Inverter technology is usually a solid one.


Monitoring units’ performance, then, is as important as inverter technology is. It helps reducing costs and making the whole HVAC system energy efficient and reliable. In fact, monitoring not only allows to implement efficiency strategies based on the observation of real data, but also allows the planning of preventive maintenance.

The new R-32 Small Inverter Chiller

In the case described so far, the new Small Inverter Chiller Series featuring R-32 refrigerant is an extremely valuable choice.

This air-cooled scroll solution comes also in the heat pump version and can provide sanitary hot water up to 60 °C. The new Series can cover capacities ranging from 16 kW to 90 kW, keeping the footprint of the units very compact, regardless of the unit chosen.

This heat pump version of this Series is designed to cope with an ambient temperature range from -20 ˚C to 35 ˚C (heating mode).

Notable among the outstanding features offered as standard by this Series are the Daikin design DC-Inverter Scroll compressors, high efficiency Daikin design DC-Inverter fans with a selectable silent mode, and an inverter pump kit with both low and high lift variants.

These components make the Small Inverter Chiller a full inverter Series, which perfectly addresses the important aspect of load variation in light commercial buildings such as gyms or fitness clubs, helping the HVAC system delivering exactly what is needed by the facility in the different moments of the day, and raising the energy efficiency of the system.

As far as connectivity and monitoring, then, Daikin has worked to offer the most advanced features with this Series.

The Smart Control solutions for this Series are specifically designed to reach the highest level of performance and system flexibility, also allowing Small Inverter Chiller units to be easily sequenced in case that was required by the project as a solution for improved load variation management.

The R-32 Small Inverter Chiller is also able to communicate with any external BMS and can be easily connected to Daikin on Site, the remote monitoring and system optimization within the Daikin proprietary cloud platform, which ensures full control of the units through detailed monitoring, online alarm troubleshooting and remote control.

This Series also stands out for its enhanced ability to connect to the Internet through the Internet of Things. Thanks to that, a dedicated Mobile Configuration App can be used to make commissioning extremely easy and quick.


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