Commercial Vs. Residential HVAC


HVAC systems for residential homes are markedly different from commercial systems.


Understand these differences when planning for HVAC installation so that you can get the right system for your property.

Below are some areas in which commercial and residential HVACs differ.


Commercial HVACs usually have higher capacity than residential HVACs.

The difference makes sense since HVAC systems heat or cool larger areas than residential systems.

At the same time, HVAC capacity is usually proportional to its capacity.

Thus, commercial systems are also physically bigger than residential systems.



HVAC systems exist in two main forms – packaged and split.

A packaged system integrates every major component of the HVAC in a single unit.

A split system typically separates the major components into two distinct units.

Both designs have their pros and cons.

However, a commercial HVAC is more likely to be a packaged unit than a residential one.



The need for cooling and heating in a commercial property may change over time.

For example, you may need to redesign your HVAC system if you:

  • Partition your open office into closed ones
  • Turn the storage room into an office
  • Reduce your warehouse’s square footage

Replacing your HVAC system every time your heating and cooling needs change is costly.

You don’t have to do that with commercial HVACs since they are mostly modular.

Modularity means you can reduce or expand the HVACs capacity without replacing the entire unit.

Most residential systems are not modular.



All HVAC systems produce some noise when running.

The electrical relays, the rotating motors, the fans, and other moving parts of HVAC contribute to their overall house.

HVAC noise depends on various factors, including make and model.

However, the bigger an HVAC system is, the noisier it’s likely to be.

Thus, commercial HVACs are generally noisier than residential ones.



Commercial HVAC units usually go on the rooftop.

Installers usually install residential systems:

  • In the crawlspace
  • In the basement
  • On the side of the house

For split residential systems, one unit sits inside the house and the other outside.

The rooftop makes a good installation place for commercial HVACs since:

  • The location frees up the ground space for commercial operations
  • The location minimizes HVAC noise reaching the ground or inside the property
  • The location allows for convenient maintenance and repair without interrupting workers

Most commercial buildings have flat roofs that allow easy HVAC installation and service.

Of course, you must first confirm that the roof’s structural integrity is adequate for the additional HVAC load.



Both commercial and residential HVAC systems require drainage.

Drainage is necessary because the air conditioner extracts some moisture from the air during operation, and you need to drain the water safely.

However, commercial systems produce more condensation than residential systems.

The commercial systems thus require a big and complex drainage system.

For commercial systems, expect multiple pipes and pans instead of the single pans that residential systems feature.



HVAC systems require good ventilation for efficient operations.

Residential HVACs don’t require complex ventilation systems – after all, you can just open your windows and air the house.

The situation is different for commercial systems.

Some commercial properties don’t even have windows, and if they do, opening and closing them all the time might not be convenient.

Moreover, some commercial properties generate considerable exhaust.

For example, a paint manufacturing facility can produce many chemical fumes that need proper and safe ventilation.

Thus, commercial systems require carefully designed ventilation systems.

HVAC design requires skilled knowledge – knowledge that you can only get from a professional HVAC technician.

Chrismon Heating & Cooling has been active in the HVAC industry for over 20 years.

Contact us for all your heating and cooling needs and benefit from our professional services.