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What is the Difference Between Commercial & Residential AC Units?

What is the Difference Between Commercial & Residential AC Units?

The similarities between commercial and residential HVAC is that they both serve the purpose of heating, cooling and ventilating a space. However, that is where the similarities end. The most notable variation between the two is the size difference. Commercial air conditioning units tend to be considerably larger than what you would find in a residential space. Let’s dive a little deeper into the details of the differences between the type of system you use in your house versus what is used in non-residential buildings.

Commercial and Residential Air Conditioners Are Different Sizes

We’ve already established that there is a big size difference between your home’s AC unit and a commercial HVAC system. To maintain the temperature and comfort of large commercial spaces, the systems are more complex and demand more energy to achieve the desired set points. Meanwhile, residential systems are small enough to be hidden in a closet or an out-of-reach space within the home.

HVAC System Placement Variations

You’ve probably driven by warehouses, schools or even hospitals and noticed the massive units on the rooftop. Commercial A/C systems require more storage space than a unit designed for residential use. Installing the non-residential units on the roof not only saves space but also helps avoid noise pollution in the commercial space.

The much smaller, compact air conditioner units designed for residential use are often installed within the house itself: crawlspace, attic, basement or an A/C closet in the actual living space. You may have noticed a unit outside that blows warm air. This is the condenser, the heart of the entire system and it’s cabinet houses the compressor, fan and condensing coils.

Split or Packaged AC System?

We’ve already mentioned that commercial heating and cooling systems are much more complex than residential A/C units. The components of a non-residential system are all combined into one single unit: a package system. They may include multiple thermostats and controls allowing various parts of a store, office building or school to maintain different temperatures at the same time.

The central air in your home is usually a split system meaning the condensing unit (the outside unit) is seperate from the evaporator (the unit inside your home). A copper tube runs between the two carrying the refrigerant. This system relies on ducts throughout the structure to deliver cool or warm air. Typically, one thermostat is installed and the entire space will be warmed or cooled to the same set point.

*NOTE: There are circumstances that warrant the use of small, residential packaged units such as manufactured homes.

Cost of AC Unit Repairs, Maintenance and Installation Sevices

Since commercial air conditioners are massive in comparison to residential units, it’s safe to assume they also cost more overall. Factors such as size, complexity and type of mechanism used usually determine the cost associated with maintaining, repairing and installing non-residential systems. Access to the location of the system may be factored into the service price as some commercial units are difficult to get to. They also require HVAC professionals that are highly experienced and qualified to work on commercial HVAC equipment.

Find the Right Residential or Commercial Air Conditioner Company

While both types of systems are designed to achieve the same goal, their application is entirely different. Understanding the differences may help you decide on which AC company best suits your needs: commercial or residential. It’s important to only trust your equipment to techs who are experienced and competent in the type of system or model that you need serviced, repaired or installed. Some companies, such as First Degree Air Conditioning, staff technicians that are skilled and certified to work on both commercial and home use units.