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7 Major Differences between Residential and Commercial HVAC Systems

August 4th, 2016


While both residential and commercial HVAC systems serve the same purpose of heating, ventilating and cooling, they vary drastically in terms of mechanism and parts. This is because addressing the need for comfort in a home varies drastically when compared to a work space. Following are 7 major differences between residential and commercial HVAC units:



A residential HVAC unit is much smaller as compared to a commercial HVAC system as it needs to cool or heat a much larger space. Commercial systems are also different in terms of components like thermostats, condenser fan, compressor, evaporator, blower and, dampers. As both the systems are required to serve the needs of different areas, the amount of power they consume to function also varies dramatically.



While a residential HVAC unit is typically placed in the backyard or the sides of the house, a commercial HVAC system is placed in swamp coolers or on the building’s roof for the following reasons:

  • An HVAC system that is placed on the roof makes a great space saving solution.
  • It avoids noise pollution in the building.
  • It is a perfect solution for maintenance as none of the activities are disrupted during repairs and replacements.



Apart from the size, residential and commercial HVAC systems also vary in structure. Commercial systems need to be more adaptable depending on the type of building where they are being installed, the number of occupants and the use of the building whether it is periodic or constant. Other factors that determine the complexity of commercial HVAC systems are the end-use of the structure and the things that are being manufactured or sold in the building. These are the major reasons commercial systems feature a complicated mechanism as compared to residential units that require less power to alleviate exhaust.



Every component of an HVAC system is larger than that of a residential unit including the drainage system. As residential HVAC units serve a much smaller area, the entire system drains in a single pan that is placed outside the house. A commercial HVAC system consists of multiple pipes and pans for the draining purpose to ensure complete evaporation and to eliminate the possibility of overflowing.



The mechanism of a commercial HVAC unit depends on the structure where it is going to be installed. The manufacturing and installation of a commercial HVAC system are modular whereas a residential unit is manufactured as a standalone system. Since commercial HVAC systems are modular, all the parts are housed together and it allows for easy maintenance and upgrade. In a residential HVAC unit, all the parts are split between the indoors and the outdoors and it cannot be modified or expanded.



The HVAC equipment used in smaller residential structures differs drastically as compared to the massive HVAC equipment that is installed in commercial establishments. Commercial systems are customised for effective heating and cooling and are very intensive. The humidity and temperature needs of a residential dwelling do not vary much which is why the HVAC equipment used in the two systems is very different.


7.Maintenance Cost

The maintenance cost of commercial HVAC systems is more than a standalone residential unit for various reasons such as complexity of components, the size of the system and the difference in mechanism. For a commercial unit, you need highly experienced and skilled technicians to ensure a perfect installation, efficient maintenance and energy efficiency. Different HVAC technicians specialise in different HVAC systems as both the units feature a unique mechanism and function differently.

While both the systems are designed to accomplish the same goal, ensuring a comfortable and healthy space requires periodic HVAC maintenance checkups by technicians who specialise in the particular system you own.

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