If you’re someone who loves learning about the inner-workings of mega-mansions and celebrity homes, you may have wondered what type of HVAC systems these homes have. For certain, a home that’s 44,000 square feet can’t stay comfortable inside by relying on the HVAC systems of traditional homes. But do these domineering domiciles use commercial-grade systems, or just more of the normal equipment used in lesser homes? Let’s dive in and reveal the systems that deliver perfect indoor temperatures for celebrities no matter the weather outside.
You may think that houses the size of shopping malls would use commercial-grade HVAC systems, but that’s not usually the case for a few key reasons. First, there’s physical appearance to consider. Commercial HVAC systems are usually mounted on the roof, which can be hard to hide on a residential home that’s designed to be stunningly beautiful. Mounting a huge metal box on the roof rarely makes sense here. Smaller types of commercial HVAC systems like PTAC units are mounted through the wall instead of on the roof, but these systems are geared more toward smaller areas like hotel rooms.
Another reason mansions don’t usually need a commercial-grade HVAC system is that most of the time the space won’t have that many people inside, unlike an office building or retail store with hundreds of occupants. When a lot of people gather inside a building, their body heat can have a major impact on interior temperatures, which takes extra power to regulate. Commercial systems compensate for this extra demand, which would be overkill for a residential home.
Although the mansions of celebrity homes seem to spare no expense at first glance, one of the key factors in selecting the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system is energy-efficiency. After all, no one likes spending extra money for the same level of comfort. Another factor that’s usually at the forefront of choosing a system for a large home is how much sound it produces. Forcing mass quantities of air through large spaces can make a ton of noise, so finding ways to minimize this is key for maintaining a luxurious vibe inside.
Geothermal systems work by leveraging the naturally consistent temperature of the earth by drilling deep shafts to run piping through for temperature regulation. The regulated air is then forced through the home using a forced-air system. Essentially, the only electricity required is for powering the fans and pumps, rather than doing the work of heating or cooling. This makes these systems ideal for extra-large residences.
In areas with higher or unstable fossil fuel prices, the annual costs to operate a traditional HVAC system that relies on natural gas for heating can be extraordinary compared to a geothermal system. And when the space to cool in the summer is massive, a geothermal system can also save huge sums of money on energy consumption.
When noise from air ducts is an issue because of the space involved, using small-duct, high-velocity HVAC systems is often a solution in celebrity mansions. These systems use variable-speed air handlers to force air through ductwork that has insulation to deaden the sound of air rushing through. These systems are typically linked to numerous heat pumps located around the outside of the home for more precise zone control in massive homes with dozens of rooms.
When the HVAC system needs to be aesthetically pleasing to not disrupt the design of the home, a variable refrigerant flow heat pump system with numerous ducted terminal units and linear diffusers can be installed to condition individual rooms and several other areas of the home. These systems make more sense in luxury homes than alternatives such as wall ac units when it comes to controlling the temperature of individual areas of the home.
Duct and refrigerant line routing must be carefully selected to minimize the disruption to the look of the home, and when the install needs to be seamless, the condenser can be hidden behind bushes or privacy fencing away from the home so it’s completely out of sight. From the celebrity’s perspective, the only signs of the system are the linear diffusers and thermostats on the wall.
Not all mansions owned by celebs are brand-new builds—sometimes they’re historic homes that don’t lend themselves well to more modern HVAC systems. In these cases, radiant heat systems are sometimes used in conjunction with a large boiler. This system works by heating water and pushing it through a network of pipes underneath the floors of the home. The heat then “radiates” up from the floor to evenly warm the home. The boilers that heat the water can be powered either by electric, natural gas, or propane.
Radiant heating systems can be highly effective and comfortable residential HVAC systems that neither dry out nor add humidity to the home’s air. However, these systems can sometimes take a long time to fully heat, especially in bigger homes.
When temperatures rise, cooling can be achieved using a wall air conditioner for smaller spaces of the home that aren’t used as often. For medium spaces, mini-split systems are sometimes used. And when aesthetics are everything, small duct high velocity systems can be installed for the cooling function of the system.