The Pros and Cons of An HVAC Rooftop Unit

The Pros and Cons of An HVAC Rooftop Unit

Commercial buildings require a large area for the placement of heating and cooling systems. On some buildings, the HVAC system is placed around the side or back. That solution can work great if you’ve got the space. But it doesn’t take advantage of a more obvious solution: placing an HVAC rooftop unit on top of the building.

What Is an HVAC Rooftop Unit?

HVAC rooftop units (RTU)’s are a popular heating and air conditioning system. They are simple and compact, often referred to as a “package unit” because the complete HVAC unit is found all in one self-contained system. RTU’s are regularly used on the rooftops of shops and small commercial buildings. They provide conditioned air to designated areas via building air ducts.

How Is It Different from Other Commercial HVAC Systems?

RTU’s are different from other HVAC units because they never split system components into different places throughout the building. Rooftop units are a type of Air Handling Unit with the main difference being that they are more compact, and they are always installed on the rooftop. They are engineered to be more weatherproof and robust to help them withstand sun, rain, snow, wind, etc. Because rooftop units are completely self-contained, they are never connected to external chillers or boilers for heating and cooling function.

Pros of an HVAC Rooftop Unit:

Rooftop Unit - CMI MechanicalRooftops are flat and away from the coming and going of customers and employees. This makes them the ideal location for safety and hazard avoidance. It also ensures that any loud whirring mechanical sounds are not disruptive. Additionally, unit theft is nearly impossible from the rooftop, and the RTU is likely to stay cleaner at its higher elevation. It will still need regular cleaning, but there is less clogging debris about the area, making it ideal than ground installation.

RTU maintenance on the rooftop is less of a disturbance than it can be on the ground. Maintenance crews can work freely without causing any issue to office tenants or shoppers on the other side of the wall or window.

Cons of An HVAC Rooftop Unit

Preventative Maintenance by CMI MechanicalRTU’s are heavy and could cause damage to your roof membrane. If this happens, it could result in water leaking into the building. If the installation is done in a poor location such as a low spot, any water pooling from rain and weather can eventually corrupt the rooftop material surface where the unit sits.

Another drawback of installing an HVAC rooftop unit is the “out of sight out of mind” factor. It does happen, meaning that RTU’s can be forgotten. Maintenance and upkeep can suffer, causing less useful life and quicker deterioration. Avoid this problem by adhering to a regular service schedule.

Installing an HVAC rooftop unit can attract storm damage resulting from lightning or other weather damage. It’s not common, but it can and does happen more frequently than units installed on the ground.

Proven Capabilities

CMI Mechanical is known for solving tough commercial HVAC problems. Call on our seasoned experts for help at (303) 364-3443.

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The experiences I have had with the CMI team out of Denver has been nothing but positive.  If conversations for HVAC or national Boiler services were to open up, I will most definitely reach out to you.

Maile Keliikuli

Facilities Manager, REI Co-Op