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Comparing Commercial & Residential HVAC Systems

Residential vs. Commercial Heating: What’s the Difference?

It’s easy to assume that every HVAC system is the same, and in some ways, this is true. The goal of any HVAC system is to warm and cool a building no matter the weather. Every day of the year, the HVAC system is working to keep a build’s occupants comfortable. But not all HVAC systems are made the same. There are many differences between residential and commercial HVAC systems, but there are three major differences between the two. 

1. Size & Location

Residential HVAC systems are designed to suit only homes; they would not work on a commercial building. Residential systems are smaller-scaled than commercial. Their job is to heat and cool a home, no more than a few thousand square feet on average. On the other hand, commercial units are designed to heat and cool hundreds of thousands of square feet. Commercial HVAC systems handle buildings the size of grocery stores to skyscrapers. 


The size of each system plays a role in where the components of the system are installed. Residential HVAC systems are typically installed in the basement and outside the home. Air conditioners for a residency are usually behind the house, and the heater is typically located in the basement or an out-of-the-way corner of a home. 

Commercial systems, on the other hand, take up a lot more space than residential ones. Air conditioners are usually located on the roof of commercial spaces to protect them from vandalizing and take up as little space as possible. Heaters are usually located far from the busiest sections of the building, with some systems comprising an entire basement. Commercial systems are designed to get technicians in and out of the area without interrupting the general business of a commercial building. 

2. Complexity 

After size, the complexity of the system is the greatest difference between residential and commercial HVAC. HVAC systems in the home are typically easier to access and consist of fewer ducts, vents, and radiators. Additionally, the units themselves are less complex for residential spaces. Parts of a heater for a home are fewer and smaller than parts for a commercial heater, and the same goes for air conditioners.

Commercial systems are a lot more complex. Technicians who work in commercial HVAC tend to require specialized training to handle the more complex systems. Often, commercial systems consist of miles of ductwork and enormous units. Technicians may need special equipment to work on commercial HVAC systems. 

3. Mechanism and Maintenance of Unit


The final major distinction between a residential and commercial system is their mechanisms and maintenance. The simpler nature of residential HVAC units means less maintenance is required on them. 

Commercial systems, on the other hand, have more moving parts and more demands placed on them. Wear and tear is more common in commercial units, so much commercial HVAC work is their repetitive maintenance and repair.

Additionally, maintenance is conducted differently between the two. Commercial systems typically consist of modular systems, whereas many of the parts as possible are housed in the same contained body. Residential systems usually are split between indoors and outdoors, with refrigerant lines, vents, and ductwork connecting the various parts. 

Ultimately, residential and commercial HVAC systems are two very different setups that operate to fulfill the same goal: keeping a building comfortable 365 days a year.

About Chad’s AC Direct

Unexpected heating or cooling problems can be a major headache for Montgomery, AL homeowners. Chad’s AC Direct is proud to provide a solution to those headaches with their hassle-free HVAC services. They’ll be with you every step of the project, offering written estimates, explaining every step, and cleaning up the mess on their way out the door. Give them a call today for commercial HVAC services!