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What’s The Difference Between A Packaged Unit And A Rooftop Unit?

When it comes to HVAC systems, many people are unfamiliar with the different options available. It is important to understand the differences between a packaged unit and a rooftop unit in order to make an informed decision when selecting an appropriate system for one’s home or business. 

Rooftop units offer several distinct advantages over packaged units due to their elevated position above grade level. Since they can take advantage of ambient outdoor temperatures while still providing effective climate control inside, they tend to be more energy efficient than other options provided there’s enough space on the roof itself for installation purposes. 

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Definition Of Packaged Unit

A packaged unit is an air conditioning and heating system that combines all components of a HVAC system into one self-contained unit. These units are mounted on the ground outside or in some cases, placed on a rooftop. 

The majority of these systems are factory assembled and tested for efficiency before being shipped to the job site. Packaged units provide climate control for single areas such as residential homes, apartments, small offices, warehouses, and commercial buildings.

The primary benefit of using a packaged unit is convenience since it requires minimal installation time compared to split-systems which require multiple components located in various locations throughout the building. 

Additionally, they tend to be more affordable than other types of HVAC equipment due to their simplified design and fewer parts needed for assembly. Furthermore, they allow easy access to maintenance and repairs with most major brand models featuring removable panels which makes servicing quick and simple.

Definition Of Rooftop Unit

A rooftop unit (RTU) is an air conditioning system that is designed and mounted on the roof of a building. These systems are typically used to cool large commercial or industrial buildings, such as offices, warehouses, shopping centers and factories. 

RTUs use refrigerants to remove heat from inside the building and transport it outside in order to provide cooling for occupants. The components of a typical RTU include an outdoor condensing unit, indoor evaporator coil, compressor, expansion valve, fans and ductwork.

In comparison to packaged units, rooftop units have several advantages such as better energy efficiency due to their higher static pressure capabilities; they allow easier maintenance access with easy-to-reach components; they also allow more flexibility in terms of zoning; finally, they can be installed faster than traditional split systems since all components come pre-assembled. Additionally, rooftop units generally require less equipment space when compared to other types of HVAC systems which makes them ideal for many applications.

Design Differences

Packaged units and rooftop units have distinct design differences. Packaged units are pre-assembled systems that contain all of the components necessary for heating or cooling within a single cabinet, typically located on the ground outside of a building. The unit is powered by electricity and usually has an outdoor fan motor to circulate conditioned air into the structure. 

Rooftop units, also known as “roof-tops” or RTUs, are designed with two main parts: a condensing section mounted on the roof and an evaporator section located inside the structure near the ceiling or in an attic space. 

The indoor portion consists of a blower housing with one or more fans connected to ducts which blow conditioned air throughout the building. Unlike packaged units, rooftop units require external power sources such as natural gas lines or propane tanks in order to operate effectively. 

In addition, they must be regularly inspected and maintained due to their increased exposure to weather conditions.

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Installation Considerations

The installation process between a packaged unit and a rooftop unit is quite different, as each requires its own considerations when being installed. A packaged unit typically comes with all of the necessary components already included and can be installed in areas that are easily accessible. 

This means it must have enough space around it for technicians to complete the installation safely and efficiently. On the other hand, a rooftop unit usually requires additional components such as mounting brackets or support beams before it can be installed on top of an existing structure. 

Rooftop units will also require professionals who are familiar with working at heights in order to ensure safe installation practices are followed. Additionally, the structural integrity of the building should be taken into consideration when installing any type of HVAC system so that there is no damage done during or after the installation process.

Size And Capacity Specifications

Rooftop units are generally larger than packaged units and are designed to cool large spaces, such as industrial warehouses or commercial office buildings. 

They have a capacity of up to 25 tons, while most packaged units only reach capacities of 5-20 tons. Rooftop units also typically require more space on the roof for installation due to their size and weight. Additionally, they can be used in both single-zone and multi-zone applications.

Packaged units tend to be smaller in size compared to rooftop units and are suitable for cooling smaller spaces with lower cooling requirements. These units usually come in sizes ranging from 2-5 tons, making them ideal for residential homes or small offices. 

Packaged units also take up less space on the roof since they are lighter and more compact compared to rooftop systems. Furthermore, most packaged air conditioners can only be used for single zone applications.

Climate Control Capabilities

Packaged units are installed as a single unit and can be placed either outdoors or indoors. They provide cooling, heating, dehumidification and ventilation for an area. Rooftop units are also known as split systems, which consist of two separate components. 

The condenser is located outside the building and the evaporator inside. These units usually offer air conditioning and variable air volume (VAV) capabilities to help control climate.

Rooftop units generally take up less space than packaged units because they do not need any additional outdoor equipment such as ductwork or piping in order to operate effectively. In addition, rooftop units tend to have higher efficiency ratings due to their ability to cool more quickly while using less energy. 

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Maintenance Requirements

The maintenance requirements for a packaged unit and a rooftop unit differ significantly. A packaged unit typically requires less maintenance than a rooftop unit because all components are contained in one self-contained system. This means that any necessary repairs can be made without needing to access the roof or other parts of the building, which reduces labor costs and simplifies maintenance tasks. 

In contrast, a rooftop unit is more complex as individual components such as fans, motors, condensers, evaporators, and ducts must be accessed individually on the roof. Additionally, some external parts may need regular cleaning or replacement due to their exposure to weather elements like rain and snow. 

Periodic inspections are also required with both units to ensure they are functioning properly and running efficiently.



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