Best Commercial HVAC Units To Install In Your Multi-Site Location

Best Commercial HVAC Units To Install In Your Multi-Site Location

by | Commercial HVAC, Facility Maintenance, Facility Management

When it comes to installing and managing commercial HVAC units across multiple sites, your best choice is going to be a rooftop unit (RTU).

Rooftop units are a heating and cooling solution that saves space, simplifies maintenance and repairs, and saves your tenants and/or employees from excessive noise.

Commercial HVAC units are a big investment (all of the RTUs mentioned below should last at least 15 years), but an investment that ultimately will pay off over time as you minimize annoyance, reduce costs, and always maintain the proper temperature.

Because the decision of which commercial HVAC units to install in your multi-site location is fairly complex, we’ve compiled this helpful guide to simplify the process for you.

Already Have Commercial HVAC Units?

Quick note: Do you have an existing commercial HVAC unit that is over 10 years old? Even though it still may function, it could be draining energy and costing you a lot of money.

RTUs design and produced after 2012 have been proven to save you 40-50% on energy costs according to the US Department of Energy.

Walgreens recently retired older rooftop units (even before they stopped working) with new, high-efficiency units and have already saved $1 million across only 150 stores.

Comparison of Commercial HVAC Rooftop Units

Today we’re going to take a look at the three companies that comprise the “gold standard” of commercial HVAC and rooftop units: Trane, York, and Carrier.

We’ll look at the pros and cons of each of their units, as well as what separates them from each other.

Not sure what size unit you need? Then before we start, you should know of this one simple equation:

Multiply your square footage by 25, divide by 12,000 and then subtract .5 from the final answer. This is the size (in tons) of the unit needed based on square footage.

Trane Rooftop Unit

CMI Mechanical Installs Trane HVAC unitsThe first thing you’ll need to know about rooftop commercial HVAC units is that, once you get to a certain size, the variation between different brands is not that large. However, there are some slight differences from brand to brand.

Trane’s company slogan is “You can’t stop a Trane” which speaks to the company’s well-known reliability. They are known for using high-quality compressors that can take a beating and last a long time.

However, Trane is also known for being more on the expensive side of things for everything from air conditioning units to RTUs.

Don’t worry though, business owners and installers alike claim that Trane is well worth the extra investment due to its reliability and strong 10-year warranty plan.

Trane’s warranty plan is for both parts AND labor, which is great because many HVAC warranty plans only include parts and lead to complaints of high labor costs.

York Rooftop Unit

CMI Mechanical Installs York HVAC unitsYork’s commercial HVAC solutions are known for being more value-oriented. Their rooftop units will not cost as much as Trane’s products, though they may lack in features and reliability.

Additionally, York offers a 10-year parts warranty on all of its products, with only a 1-year limited warranty for labor performed. This means that if anything goes wrong past the 1st year, labor costs could really start to add up.

Carrier Rooftop Unit

CMI Mechanical Installs Carrier HVAC UnitsCarrier is another brand that may not match the quality of Trane but will be able to provide a better value.

For example, on a 7.5-ton unit, you may be able to save as much as $2,000 from the cost of a York unit. This means that Carrier is the most budget-friendly brand on our list.

However, in HVAC as with most industries, the less you pay at the outset typically means the more you’ll pay in the future for maintenance.

Carrier has an even more limited warranty than York – offering only a 1-year warranty on parts, 4-years on compressors, and absolutely no coverage of labor costs.

Which Commercial HVAC Unit Is Best For You?

In the end, it ultimately depends whether you want a budget commercial HVAC unit or one that is considered more reliable. This isn’t to say that all York or Carrier units will rack up maintenance costs or that all Trane units will last for 30 years, but the general consensus is that Trane is the best quality of the three brands.

If you can’t swing the cost of a Trane and want to decide between York and Carrier, it may be a good idea to look at the warranties provided. York appears to offer a much better warranty plan that could save a lot on both parts and labor (for 1 year) if repairs are needed.

As always, remember that the installer of any commercial HVAC equipment is likely far more important than the unit itself.

When it comes to rooftop units bigger than 5 tons, the brands are typically pretty close in quality and features. This means that quality installation is crucial to setting up a system that will save your business time and money for years to come.


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