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The Major Differences Between Commercial and Residential HVAC Systems


While residential and commercial HVAC systems have similar methods of heating and cooling, there are significant differences between the two types of systems. Therefore, when you need to get your HVAC system repaired, you’ll want to choose a technician who specializes in the type of service you need.


Residential HVAC systems are located on the ground near the home. Commercial systems, on the other hand, generally reside on the roof of the commercial building. Commercial HVAC systems are usually quite larger than residential ones, and the rooftop provides ample space for each part of the unit. The rooftop location also allows technicians to work on these systems without disrupting those inside the building, and it keeps the system safe from interference and vandalism.

Packaged vs. Splits

Residential HVAC systems are generally in splits. The unit inside the home houses the blower, evaporator and condensate drainage, while the unit outside the home houses the compressor, condenser and condenser fan. Commercial systems, by comparison, are in one complete package inside of a single cabinet. Only the ducts and zone dampers are inside the building, while the rest of the system remains outside.

Modular vs. Standalone

Units installed in a residential space are standalone and can’t be built upon. Both the outdoor and indoor units need to work together, and the entire system must be replaced if significant changes need to be made to the heating and cooling system. Commercial systems are modular, which means they can be altered as needed. Technicians can add onto the modular units, and they can also transport these smaller segments more easily, as the system itself is quite a bit larger than a residential unit.


Unsurprisingly, commercial HVAC systems are much more complex. They heat and cool larger indoor areas, and as a result, the drainage system requires more parts than that of a residential system. Residential units generally only have one condensation pan that drains to the outside, and they have windows to alleviate exhaust. Commercial systems have detailed drainage systems, as well as additional components to help with exhaust functions.

When you need to get your HVAC system repaired or serviced, choose the appropriate type of company and technician. While HVAC systems in both residential and commercial spaces perform the same functions, they do so in different ways.


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