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All HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems combine central air conditioning with central heat generated by a furnace or a heat pump. However, there are some significant differences between HVAC units designed for your home and HVAC units designed for a commercial business. These differences have a direct impact on a system’s layout, location and flexibility.

Differences in Layout

Chances are, you have a split HVAC system installed in your home. This type of system divides its main components into an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit contains the furnace or heat pump, as well as a primary air conditioning component called an evaporator coil. The outdoor unit, connected to the indoor unit with tubing that carries a refrigerant, houses the other two primary AC components, the compressor and the condenser coil.

A few residences have a packaged HVAC system, which contains all of its heating and cooling components in a single unit instead of two split units. However, this packaged layout is the standard for commercial HVAC installations, not the exception. The only parts of a packaged system found indoors are the send and return ducts and the dampers that control the airflow through these ducts.

Differences in Location

As a rule, the indoor unit of a split residential HVAC system is located in an attic or some other unfinished space, while the outdoor unit sits on a concrete pad next the house. If your house has a packaged system, the unit may be located on a concrete pad or (in a small number of cases) on the roof. In contrast, you will usually find a commercial HVAC system on the roof of a building. Reasons for this placement include the need to reduce indoor noise pollution, the need to use valuable interior space for other purposes, reduced exposure to acts of vandalism and simplified access for repairs, routine servicing and system updates.

Differences in Flexibility

When you buy a residential HVAC system, what you see is what you get. If you ever feel the need to increase your heating or cooling capacity, you’ll have to remove the old system and install a new one. However, commercial HVAC systems are modular. This means that, instead of replacing them, you can meet your increased heating or cooling needs by simply plugging a new HVAC module into the existing system.

These three differences help clearly define residential HVAC systems and commercial HVAC systems. However, one key similarity remains. You need a qualified HVAC professional to install, service and repair both types of systems.

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