Air Handling Units (AHUs) are ubiquitous throughout commercial real estate, industrial facilities, and large-scale public buildings. They play an integral role in all HVAC systems, helping regulate and circulate air in indoor spaces by using fans to draw air across an evaporator coil to absorb or release heat. Sounds simple, but that’s where the simplicity stops. Commercial (vs. residential) air handlers are typically custom-designed to the unique specifications of new projects or existing builds. So, how can you know what the air handler or handlers for your project should cost?
What Are the Main Components of Custom AHU Cost?
With off-the-shelf AHUs, prices are pre-set and easy to access. But very few commercial, industrial or public projects lend themselves to the use of ready-made AHUs. Typically, a project’s HVAC system will be bespoke, designed specifically for the needs and requirements of one individual building. That means the only solution is to turn to custom AHUs. And with custom AHUs, pricing can vary dramatically depending on requirements. But to get a handle on how much AHUs cost, there are three broad vectors that drive cost: quality and complexity, capacity, and installation.
Quality and Complexity
The cost of an AHU unit depends on many variables, but quality and complexity are maybe the most significant. More than making something more powerful, making something with only the highest-end components, built for high availability and durability, and requiring complex configurations and interoperability will drive vast differences in cost. Think bare-bones Corolla vs. AMG G-Wagon: they both have four wheels and move you around … but you get the point.
This is the most obvious of the three cost vectors. More BTUs will almost always mean higher and higher costs. Units can range from 2,000 to 200,000 CFM (or more). This drives cost because more capacity means more and larger components or the need to produce multiple units to handle the load. Although other factors do come into play (air quality requirements, etc.), the single biggest factor to consider in the capacity equation is the facility’s square footage.
Once the unit is built, it will need to be shipped, installed, and tested. This work is complex and will have to be done by qualified specialists approved by the manufacturer, or you risk putting your warranty at risk. Installation costs can often add 100% of the price of manufacturing to the project’s overall cost, so it’s important to factor installation into your cost analysis
So How Much Should An Air Handling Unit Cost?
For a custom AHU unit for a commercial or public project, installed cost can run between $25K and $500K. The range is huge, but this reflects the range of different AHUs required and underlines why custom AHU manufacturing is so vital for the industry. So when you are evaluating a project, remember that the bigger and the more complex and the higher quality required, the higher your cost will be. And remember, if it’s expensive to build, it will likely be expensive to install.
Kinetix Air Streamlines, Accelerates, and Cuts Costs of AHU Manufacturing
Custom air handler manufacturing is competitive, and traditional selection software only helps manufacturers do part of the job. Kinetix Air unifies all aspects of custom AHU sales, design, and manufacturing. It automates repetitive and time-consuming parts of the process – cutting your level of effort and reducing risk from errors. Kinetix Air cuts design time by 50% and reduces validation, pricing, submittal, and BOM package time to near zero, saving you more than 20 hours per AHU for an average savings of $200K per year. With a unified solution like the Kinetix Air AHU software, you can design and price an air handling unit that meets any customer specification within a matter of hours and quickly make changes to the model as they come up.
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