Why​ ​a​ ​Home’s​ ​HVAC​ ​System​ ​Is​ ​Different​ ​Than​ ​a​ ​Commercial​ ​One

While all HVAC systems have the same goal, and each type works along the same principles no matter where it is installed, there are important differences between the systems in private residences and commercial buildings.

7 Important Variables Between Commercial and Residential Systems

Many things are the same between HVAC systems in commercial and residential locations, but there are also many differences. Important differences include:

  1. Size. The greatest difference between commercial and residential systems is the size of the equipment. Commercial structures are usually much larger than homes and are filled with more people and electronics that create more heat in the building.
  2. Installation location. Residential systems are usually installed on the ground outside the structure. Those installed in commercial buildings are often put on the roof to save space and keep them from being vandalized.
  3. Standalone or modular systems. Residential systems are usually standalone models which cannot be modified or expanded, only replaced. Commercial setups are modular in nature, allowing them to be upgraded or downgraded as businesses need it.
  4. Packaged or split systems. Residential systems are split into indoor and outdoor sections. Commercial systems are considered “packaged” because they combine all necessary parts into one place.
  5. Drain system. Residential systems normally drip into a pan which then drains outside. Commercial systems require a more complicated drainage system due to the increased size of the system and the location of the unit.
  6. Venting. Residential systems normally require no additional ventilation consideration. They are outside where they can vent freely or can easily vent through a home’s windows. Ventilation is a concern for commercial systems because they are often placed inside of structures with no windows for protection. Such structures need to be vented for proper functioning of the equipment.
  7. Technical difficulty. Residences have relatively straightforward HVAC systems compared to those installed in commercial structures. Commercial systems require more thermostats (which require more wiring) and much more ductwork that must be run in more complicated fashions and other issues.

Repairing and Replacing Commercial and Residential Systems

Because commercial systems are larger and more complex than residential systems, they require more specialized training and experience with the equipment used in these setups. An experienced HVAC technician can diagnose the system in a business structure, but the work of repairing it may require multiple technicians.

The nature of modular commercial systems makes them more challenging to diagnose and repair than the single unit of a residence. Problems in a residential system can only be located in one or two locations, commercial setups have many more possibilities.

Businesses need to be sure when they hire an HVAC company that they choose one with technicians experienced in working with commercial systems. Residential setups are much simpler to diagnose and repair than larger commercial systems, and cannot properly prepare a technician to work on commercial buildings without proper training.

Whether you need a new HVAC unit for your home or your business building, Solano Heating has got you covered. Our technicians are trained and experienced in both residential and commercial HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. Contact us today for more information.

Residential and Commercial HVAC Systems: What are the Differences?

HVAC systems are meticulously designed and marvelously constructed to deliver outstanding and reliable service wherever they are installed. As long as they are well-maintained they should continue to function at peak efficiency for a many years, thoroughly heating or cooling the buildings they occupy from January through December.

But while certain principles unite all HVAC systems, there are some clear differences between those designed for residential settings and those manufactured for use in commercial, industrial or other large-scale enterprises …


Size and Structure

Residential HVAC systems come in two parts: an outside cabinet that holds the compressor, condenser and condenser fan and an inside unit that contains the evaporator, blower and drainage pan. Inside and outside units are separate sections of a cohesive whole, and if one half of the system fails both halves should be replaced to ensure safe and effective operation.

Commercial HVAC systems are constructed to satisfy the heating and air conditioning needs of high square footage, heavily-trafficked public buildings or building complexes. In contrast to residential systems all of its functioning components are housed together inside one large, sturdy prepackaged unit. This includes the compressor, condenser, condenser fan, evaporator, blower and drainage system.


Location of Equipment

The outside half of a residential system is usually located right next to the house, either on the side or in the back yard. The inside section will generally be installed in the basement or in a first-floor closet, where it connects to a system of duct work that distributes processed air throughout the house.

But the situation is different with commercial systems. Because they are so noisy and produce excess amounts of heat prepackaged commercial HVAC units are almost always installed on rooftops. From there the humungous quantities of heated or cooled air these units produce is piped through a vast network of ductwork to the interior spaces the system is intended to serve.


Design and Manufacture

With a residential HVAC system what you see is what you get. They’ll be sold with a fixed capacity to produce a certain amount of heated or cooled air and that’s the best they’ll ever be able to do.

Commercial systems, on the other hand, are manufactured for flexibility. Prepackaged units are modular, which means extra components can be added to increase their heating and cooling power as required.
Or removed to reduce that power, if the need arises.



Residential systems have windows available to assist with ventilation. But massive commercial HVAC systems must incorporate various additional components to handle exhaust functions smoothly and efficiently.


Drainage of Moisture

While residential HVAC systems usually feature a solitary condensation collection pan that drains to the outside, commercial systems produce far greater quantities of moisture and therefore must include more complex drainage infrastructure.


Whatever Your Commercial or Residential Needs, We Can Help You

HVAC systems vary in size, design and complexity based on the indoor climate control loads they are required to handle.

Fortunately the top companies in this industry employ versatile, highly-trained technicians who are qualified to service and install both residential and commercial HVAC systems, and Solano Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. is no exception to the rule.

We serve the cities of Solano, Contra Costa, Vacaville and Fairfield CA plus the surrounding area. Call us today if the HVAC equipment in your home or business needs repairs, maintenance or updating.

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