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Why Do So Many Commercial Structures Use Rooftop Package Systems?

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Cooling a large commercial structure requires more power than cooling a single-family home, but that's not where the differences end. Commercial HVAC units are more than just high-capacity versions of the split-system central air conditioners found in many homes. Understanding how commercial systems are unique can help you make better HVAC purchasing, repair, and maintenance decisions for your building.

While commercial HVAC systems come in numerous varieties, this article will focus on rooftop package units. These designs have multiple advantages over other styles, making them ideal for many commercial structures.

What Is a Package Unit?

When you think of a traditional home AC system, you're probably thinking of a split-system air conditioner. These units use separate condenser and evaporator units, with the former placed outside and the latter inside at the air handler. Refrigerant lines connect both sides of the system so the air conditioner can transport heat outside the home.

Package units are similar but combine the evaporator, air handler, and condenser portions of the system into a single unit or package. Commercial package units are typically rooftop-mounted, with large access panels for repairs and essential maintenance activities such as filter changes. Supply and return ducts must connect to the package unit, but no additional refrigerant plumbing is required.

Why Are Rooftop Package Systems Suitable for Commercial Structures?

Although some homes use package systems, they are far more common in commercial applications. One of the primary advantages of a package unit is the relatively compact footprint, especially if it also contains a furnace for heating. This small size reduces the amount of space required for HVAC equipment, allowing businesses to maximize available space in their building.

Commercial units also tend to have much higher capacities than residential designs, and they typically feature stronger blower motors and multiple compressors. This equipment can be noisy, making it unsuitable for installation inside the building or near occupied areas. Placing the entire package on the roof helps avoid these problems and minimize the impact of noise pollution.

Finally, installing the entire HVAC system in one place on the roof makes it easily accessible for maintenance and repair work. Technicians can easily access critical components such as the filters, evaporator coil, and other parts of the system that may need cleaning or other forms of routine care. This straightforward access also makes repairs easier when compared to cramped utility rooms.

While package systems may not be the best option for every commercial structure, their advantages make them an ideal choice in many cases. As with most HVAC design decisions, it's best to work with a skilled contractor to determine the best equipment options for any particular structure.

Contact an HVAC company, such as Engineer Mechanical Contractor, Inc., to get more advice on what's best for your building.