Up on the Rooftop: Understanding Residential Rooftop HVAC Units

Up on the Rooftop: Understanding Residential Rooftop HVAC Units While the rooftop HVAC unit is fairly standard in commercial structures, they’re beginning to be more common in home installations, as well.

The typical residential “split” central air conditioner is composed of two halves: the indoor unit, which comprises the evaporator coil and blower, and the outdoor unit — usually located behind or next to the house — that includes the condenser coil and compressor. These separate units are linked by insulated lines that circulate refrigerant continuously.

A rooftop HVAC unit is called a “packaged” system because it integrates both coils and all other components into a single unit mounted on the roof. For the homeowner considering a new installation, the rooftop option offers both pros and cons to consider.

Rooftop Pros

  • Because all system components are integrated into a single unit, maintenance and repair may be streamlined. Unlike split systems, no refrigerant lines link separate units so certain issues such as leaks are less likely.
  • Air circulation into the outdoor half of a split system may be limited by proximity to the house as well as encroaching bushes and other vegetation. Situated high above all obstructions, a rooftop unit gets maximum air for performance and efficiency.
  • Cold air sinks naturally. A rooftop A/C introduces air directly into ductwork from the highest point in the house. Cooled air flows downward and disperses into the house with less resistance.
  • Ground-based central A/C systems are also more attractive to thieves. Roof-mounted air conditioners are seldom stolen.

Rooftop Cons

  • A rooftop unit is heavy and stresses the roof. The structure must be properly configured and able to withstand extra weight plus installation hardware.
  • Exposure to sunlight and heat makes an air conditioner age faster, increasing wear and tear. In our climate here in Yuma, a rooftop unit gets no shade and is continuously exposed to scorching sun and extreme temperatures.
  • Rooftop units typically have higher initial purchase price BUT lower installation costs than ground-based split systems.

For more advice on the best HVAC system for your home, contact Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 928-723-3183.