HVAC solutions for fuel and gas stations

HVAC solutions for fuel and gas stations

The third blog in our ongoing series about HVAC solutions for different industries brings us to the challenge of energy reduction for fuel and gas stations. These outlets differ from many of the other facilities in that they’re generally open extremely long hours, often on a 24/7 basis.

In the context of HVAC systems, fuel and gas stations present unique cost management challenges when it comes to energy reduction and general system operations decision-making.

In these facilities, there’s no obvious “one size fits all” fix or approach. Plus, if the facility operator wants to reduce energy costs, simply reducing the hours in which systems are operational isn’t a realistic approach. The question then is, “what can be done?”

Common characteristics of facilities

For starters, fuel and gas stations tend to share some common characteristics that impact energy usage. These include:

  • Large glass front areas – which can result in solar warming during certain conditions or hours but high heat loss in others (such as cold, cloudy days.)
  • Some parts of the store (those not subject to the immediate impact of the glass front) may have different heating and cooling requirements from others.
  • In cold climates, entrance heating is likely to be a requirement. In hot climates, entrance air conditioning may be required.
  • Most fuel and gas stations operate refrigerated display cases, often running the entire length of the store. The loads of these units heavily impact HVAC requirements particularly so if they are open cases.

The key is that the design of the HVAC system must compensate for the effects of the realities above (and others), so system optimization is critical. As a result, where it can be captured, data for calculating loads for people, lights, motors, and other energy-consuming equipment should be obtained before the system is designed and operated and is prerequisite for effective optimization.

Suitable HVAC systems for fuel and gas stations

Though there are different approaches to the system build itself, perhaps the alternative of choice is the rooftop HVAC which simplifies installation and is particularly appropriate to the needs of smaller to medium sized stores though even for larger stores where multiple units are required, ductwork is decreased.  Rooftop units may or may not be heat pump driven (gas or electric cooling packages are an alternative) and as the equipment itself is naturally air cooled, cost of operation is relatively low.

Saving energy and optimizing operations

With the above in mind, where do the opportunities to save energy lie? Five critical areas or steps that should be considered are:

  1. If the current HVAC system is older and inefficient, particularly if it’s reliant on heavy use of refrigerants, at a minimum system replacement should be investigated.
  2. Installing an energy management system that uses sensors to control equipment such as lighting and thermostats (set to reflect operational timing requirements) should be installed if they are not already in place. Given the long operating hours of these facilities, this should be an immediate step.
  3. Installing energy efficient window treatments (for example, reflective film is one option) over the large front window should be considered to reduce HVAC load requirements. This can also be a fast and easy win.
  4. A full energy performance review should be undertaken as many gas and fuel facilities are historically reliant on older systems and thus not using the latest energy conservation concepts or controls.

However, there’s a step that can be taken by any HVAC owner – and that’s optimization of the fan speed. Perhaps surprisingly, this is a step that’s not taken as often as it might (or even should) be. If we refer back to the rooftop HVAC units commonly used in fuel and gas station settings we referenced earlier, these heat or cool air using a blower fan that operates at preset capacity loads, all the time. That’s an inherent design limitation, not a necessity – put simply, HVAC fans are typically set to factory pre-sets, which means they consume more energy than they should – increasing your costs.

The fact is, reducing the fan speed reduces energy consumption. The mathematical formulas for calculating by how much are complex, but a 20% reduction in fan speed that reduces the amount of air delivered by an equivalent percentage reduces the power used by 48.8%. Increase the fan speed reduction by 35% and the power savings is 72.6%. If that’s good news, even better is that those savings can be accrued easily enough, simply by retrofitting a control unit to the HVAC (DrivePak from NexRev is a leading example).

The opportunities to reduce energy usage and gain both cost and performance benefits by taking the steps above are considerable. They include reduced downtime, lower energy consumption, extended equipment lifespan, and a better quality of indoor environment for customers and staff alike. Plus, simplified operation of the HVAC system itself. Remember that an optimized system enables more intuitive sequencing of equipment as well as delivering improvements in system reliability and control.

The NexRev advantage

At NexRev, we’ve been unlocking the power in facility and energy management data with over half a million connected devices across North America – reducing HVAC fan speed and optimizing them for your business. We help fuel and gas station owners and operators reduce costs by adjusting HVAC speeds for their specific circumstances – and bring other innovations to reduce costs still further.

Our team of experts is focused on helping you deliver more with your budgets, infrastructure, and assets to create sustainable savings in operations and energy, reducing your risk and increasing operational confidence. Please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started today.

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NexRev, LLC

601 Development Drive
Plano, TX 75074

+1 (972) 578-0505
+1 (866) 601-5520

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