Managing and maintaining your multi-family home can be rewarding but also comes with a lot of background work. One of these is ensuring that all of the systems of your home are up-to-date and running correctly for your tenants. A large selling point for tenants is their ability to control the comfort of their living space. Therefore, the HVAC system that you chose for your multi-family home is essential. It is understandable that you may want to choose a system that is low-priced, but there are other factors that should be considered when choosing an HVAC system for your multi-family home

Types Of HVAC Systems for Multi-Family Homes

The system that you choose is based on personal preferences. It can depend on initial costs, energy efficiency, or number of units. The following are the two main categories of HVAC units that multi-family developers can choose from. 

Centralized HVAC Systems

A centralized HVAC system is one that cools or heats the entire building at once. Centralized air has one base location that is responsible for cooling multiple spaces at once.  These units generally have a higher installation cost, but they tend to run more efficiently. These are often used in apartment buildings and buildings that are considered high-rise or mid-rise.

While installation can become expensive, there are numerous benefits to having a central HVAC system.

  • They are easy to repair since the main system is in one location
  • They do not affect the overall design of the multi-family home
  • They remove the dust from the air 

There are multiple choices for centralized systems. 

Four-pipe systems can be costly to install, but they are very efficient. The four-pipe system consists of four pipes. The pipes are separated by supply and return, with cold water running through one and hot water running through the other. Geothermal systems, on the other hand, are considered high-efficiency and are one of the most effective types of centralized systems. This system relies on heat transfers to provide heating and cooling. Although upfront costs for this system are high, in the long run, they are known to shave utility costs down by 30 to 70 percent. 

Decentralized HVAC Systems 

A decentralized system is the opposite of a centralized. With this type of system, each individual unit has personalized control of cooling and heating features. They are more cost-effective to install. However, they lack in the efficiency department. The benefits of a decentralized system include:

  • There is independent control for each unit
  • They require less floor space requirements for mechanical room
  • They have lower initial costs 

The most common types of decentralized systems are packaged thermal air conditioners (PCTA) and self-contained systems. PCTAs are designed to run through the walls and have vents inside and outside of the building. In comparison, self-contained systems are installed in each individual unit, usually in a utility room. 

What to Consider When Choosing an HVAC System

When choosing an HVAC unit for your multi-family home. The things that you prioritize in the initial stages will reflect down the line. This is a decision that requires careful consideration. Of course, you would like to choose the option that will benefit you and your tenants the most. However, there are certain things that you should understand to help avoid conflict in the future. Here are some things to consider when making your decision. 

Energy Demand 

If you are looking to install an HVAC system for your multi-family home, energy demand is something that you should think about. Unlike a single-family home, the demand for proper heating and cooling holds more weight. This is because you need to account for the needs of more than one home. Understandably, you would like to keep your utility costs down, so the choice you make must be economical and smart. Owning a unit that can withstand a heavy energy load will ensure that you will have an extra layer of protection from what tenants may choose to do with the system. 


In an effort to keep costs low for your multifamily home, you must also consider the maintenance schedule of the HVAC system you choose. On all systems, a maintenance schedule is essential to keep them running smoothly for as long as possible. If you choose a system that is easy to maintain, you will have a better experience in the future with maintaining a schedule that will guarantee the longevity of your HVAC system. 

Size of the Property

Whether you are choosing an HVAC unit for an apartment complex or a duplex, you must decide what type of unit will best suit your needs. The individual comfort characteristics are vastly different based on the system you choose and the size of the property. You will want to ensure that the strength of the system is compatible with the size of the building it supports. 

What Do Tenants Want?

Keeping the units that you own comfortable year-round will ease some of the hardships that come with owning multi-family properties. Of course, there will always be things that are out of your control. But, the decision that you make when you decide what type of HVAC unit is best for you will impact you in the long run. 

Now that you know the different types of HVAC systems and the advantages of them, you will be able to make an informed decision based on your personal circumstances. 

Top-Quality HVAC Services in Indianapolis, IN

There are many decisions that you will have to make along the way when installing an HVAC system in your multi-family home. Our team at Cair Heating & Cooling will be with you every step of the way and help guide you through the decision process.

Not only will our team help you install the HVAC system in your multi-family home, but we also provide maintenance for both heating and cooling systems for residential and commercial structures across Indianapolis, IN. Whether you need a new installation, maintenance, or 24-hour emergency service, you can depend on our team to provide you with quality services that last.

To get started, feel free to contact Cair Heating & Cooling to request an appointment.