Residential and commercial HVAC systems are fundamentally similar in many respects, but they also have a number of important differences. As a result, technicians who perform work on commercial HVAC systems need to have training and experience specific to commercial work.
Most of the differences between these two types of systems arise from the simple fact that commercial HVAC systems are much larger than residential HVAC systems. Commercial HVAC systems are designed to serve sizable buildings and significant numbers of people, which requires large and complex system architecture compared to the relative simplicity and small size of residential systems.
Breaking Down the Differences
- Location: Residential HVAC systems are generally placed on the ground, but commercial HVAC systems typically live on the roof of commercial buildings. This keeps them from taking up too much space next to or inside the building, and also protects the system from vandalism.
- Standalone Vs. Modular: Residential HVAC systems are single, self-contained units that cannot be modified or expanded. In contrast, commercial HVAC systems are modular, and modules can be added or taken away in order to expand or reduce the amount of heating and cooling that the system supplies to a building.
- Packaged Vs. Split: In residential HVAC units, some of the components are housed in an indoor unit while the others are located in an outdoor cabinet. The components of commercial HVAC systems are housed in a single cabinet, which is known as a packaged unit.
- Drainage: While residential systems can typically use a single condensation pan that usually drains outside, the drainage system for a commercial system is generally much more complex.
- Ventilation: Commercial HVAC systems must use a variety of components to help with ventilation, since they do no have windows like residential systems do.
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Choose a Technician With Experience
All of these differences, large and small, make it critical that you find an HVAC service provider with technicians who are experienced in commercial work if you have a commercial HVAC system that requires maintenance or repair. Without experience working on commercial systems, HVAC technicians may incorrectly repair or install components, fail to spot areas where maintenance or repairs are necessary or make other mistakes that could end up costing you time, efficiency and money.
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