Do Mobile Offices Have Heating and Air Conditioning?

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Contrary to their outward appearance, mobile offices are not walk-in refrigerators or egg-incubators when it comes to room temperature. It is the industry standard to equip all mobile offices with operational heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems — saving clients the added time, expense and extension-cord hassle of hauling in their own whirring window-units, inefficient space heaters or rattly fans.


“Every unit we have has HVAC,” said Devin Alexander, inside sales rep for Williams-Scotsman of Baltimore. “They have electric baseboard heating, and the air-conditioning wall unit comes standard.”


According to Troy Hudson, sales specialist at Container Technology, Inc. of Morrow, Ga., HVAC systems commonly installed in many standard mobile offices include an 8,000- or 10,000-BTU AC window unit (each 120V), a 1,500-watt baseboard heater, and a 2-to-5 ton thru-wall commercial HVAC unit with 5 to 10 kilowatts of heat (250V/1/60).


“The HVAC units are typically mounted to the front wall opposite the double doors,” added Hudson. “If the HVAC unit is required on one of the sidewalls, we will cut the hole and frame out the area for the unit, but it would have to be installed by the customer once it’s delivered.”


To facilitate this, some mobile offices come complete with a self-contained, easy-to-install HVAC system. In fact, Starrco, based in Maryland Heights, Mo., has designed their units so that even a novice can install them with ease and precision in any mobile office larger than 800 square feet.


When the unit comes with all the fixings — air ducts, air diffusers and handlers, automatic thermostats, etc. — installation should be a piece of cake, so check with your dealer to see what the “extras” are. You’ll also want to make sure it comes with clearly illustrated, bullet-pointed instructions.


Though electric baseboard heating is standard, wall-mounted fan-forced heaters are an option, too. Low-profile models less than 4 feet deep are best for preventing unsightly protrusions on your office walls. The standard heater sizing formula of seven watts of heat for each square foot of floor area will help you decide what kind of heating system is best for your mobile office, based on its dimensions, square footage, and estimated occupancy and usage.


Air conditioning BTUs should also be adjusted according to occupancy levels. If you plan to use an area of your office as a conference room, lunchroom or other heavy-occupancy use, or if a heat-generating mechanism will be near such a space, then feel free to turn up the air conditioning, preferably by 500 BTUs per room occupant, according to Starrco.


Such large-group accommodations will also require increased ventilation, generally with an air change every 10 minutes, or more often if people are allowed to smoke in those spaces, according to Starrco. Broan ceiling-mounted exhaust fans are standard for mobile-office ventilation — but be careful not to overuse them, or they could make your office will feel like a walk-in refrigerator before you know it.