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When it comes to HVAC systems, not all of them are created alike. While they serve the same general purpose of heating and cooling, several differences exist between residential systems used in homes or small businesses and commercial systems used in larger office buildings, warehouses, and stores in Sarasota, Florida. While they serve the same purpose of heating and cooling, residential and commercial HVAC systems have differences in size, location, and complexity. Learn more about the differences between these two types of HVAC systems.

Size and Operating Power

A commercial HVAC system, by necessity, is larger than a residential HVAC system. While both types essentially perform the same job, the heating and cooling needs of a small area are much different than the needs of a large building. The larger systems are needed to service the increased heating and cooling needs of larger commercial buildings.

The need for increased capacity is especially true for substantially large buildings, such as warehouses. Typically, the larger the building, the larger the HVAC system needs to be. With the increased size needs, the systems need to be more powerful, as well, to sustain themselves. Since the commercial systems are customized for efficient heating and cooling, their needs are quite intensive. Technicians installing a commercial system need to find the right balance to service a building’s needs effectively, without using so much power that it causes problems with the rest of the electrical system.


Much more is expected from a commercial HVAC system, and the system must be more complex to meet these needs. A residential HVAC system is usually operating only to heat and cool a single family dwelling with fairly static requirements.

With a commercial HVAC system, not only is the building going to be larger, but it may also be segmented into different office spaces or different departments that have different heating and cooling needs. The system needs to account for several thermostats that control various areas.

For example, a company may manufacture or sell items that need to be kept at specific temperatures. A company that hosts conventions or large groups of people will require adjustable temperatures so that everyone remains comfortable. These varying needs depend on the way the building is being used and the number of people in the building. As a result, you’ll find additional complexity in the way a commercial HVAC system functions.

Drainage, Exhaust, and Ventilation

The drainage component is also larger and more intricate in a commercial system, with more parts to accommodate the increased amount of condensate being produced by a larger system. Typically, a residential HVAC system will drain into one pan located outside the home. A commercial HVAC system has a detailed drainage system with multiple pans and pipes to ensure that the system is draining properly. Proper drainage is important to make sure that water is properly removed from the system without overflowing.

Another consideration for commercial HVAC systems is the exhaust system. Additional components need to be added to the commercial HVAC system to handle the high-powered output of the system. It is important that the exhaust system is functioning effectively for the size and type of system to avoid overheating.

The ventilation system is similar in residential and commercial HVAC systems, except they are of a larger scale for commercial systems. The ventilation system directs airflow through ducts. It is crucial to maintain proper ventilation, no matter what type of HVAC system you have. The health of a ventilation system will impact the indoor air quality of a home or building.


A residential unit is typically placed either in the backyard or against the side of a house. It is generally out of the way of the occupants of the home, but still easy to access and service. A large commercial HVAC system is typically placed on the roof of a building. Several reasons exist for placing a commercial HVAC system on a building’s roof instead of at ground level:

  • The size of the unit makes it difficult to place in or around a building without taking up too much usable space. The roof typically has a large amount of space that isn’t being used.
  • Commercial units are significantly louder than their residential counterparts. Placing the unit on the roof avoids the problem of noise pollution so that the unit doesn’t disturb the occupants of a building.
  • The roof offers easy access for maintenance and repairs without disturbing those who are using the building.
  • Since commercial buildings tend to have much foot traffic around them, placing a commercial HVAC system on the roof protects it from potential vandalism or accidental damage.

Manufacture and Installation

Since residential and commercial HVAC systems are used in different types of buildings with specific uses, the two systems are manufactured in distinct ways to best suit the environments in which the systems are used.

Residential HVAC systems are contained in a standalone system and can’t be changed or built upon. Homeowners will typically buy a manufactured system that is adequate for their needs, typically calculated by square footage, occupants, and number of rooms and windows. Once they make their selection, they can call Aqua Plumbing & Air for installation services.

A commercial system, however, is customized for the building that it needs to service. Commercial systems are modular, which means the system can be added to if heating and cooling needs change. The use of a modular system also allows for easier transportation to the site. Conversely, if something would change and a homeowner requires alterations to the heating and cooling needs of a residential unit, the entire system would need to be replaced.

Residential HVAC systems are installed so that the parts of the system are split between the inside and the outside of the home. The blower, evaporator, and condensate drainage are all located inside the home. The compressor, condenser, and condenser fan are all located on the outside of the home. A commercial HVAC system has components all housed in one location outside of the building, with the exception of the ducts and zone dampers. Having the entire commercial unit housed in one place aids in easy maintenance and repairs with limited service interruptions.

Responsibility and Maintenance Costs

Homeowners are responsible for their own residential HVAC systems. Since these systems are less complex, some basic maintenance can be completed by homeowners themselves. For example, many homeowners can change their system’s air filters to maintain good air quality in their homes. Aqua Plumbing & Air is only a call away for any maintenance or service task that requires professional expertise. As a homeowner, it is always a good idea to have a professional perform yearly maintenance on your HVAC system to make sure that it is working efficiently and to extend the lifespan of your unit.

Commercial systems are more intricate, and all maintenance and repairs are handled by commercial HVAC technicians who are familiar with the type of system being used. The building owner is typically responsible for the system and making sure it remains in good working order.

Due to a commercial system’s additional size, complexity, and specialization needed, repairs on a commercial HVAC system can be much more expensive than repairs performed on a residential HVAC system. It is even more important to maintain proper maintenance on your unit as a commercial building owner, since an outage could easily suspend operations until it is fixed.

Finding an HVAC Services Technician

One feature that residential and commercial HVAC systems in Sarasota, Florida, and surrounding areas have in common is that affordable and reliable HVAC repair and maintenance professionals at Aqua Plumbing & Air are only a phone call away. Our technicians are trained to handle any type of system that you have. Emergency service means that you will always be able to get help when you need it.

Contact Aqua Plumbing & Air for quality service for all of your heating and cooling needs. We handle installations and repairs for both commercial and residential systems in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Call us at (941) 306-3715 to schedule your service or installation appointment today.

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