Here’s What You Need to Know About RTUs

commercial AC installation

If you’re adding or replacing heating and air conditioning equipment in a commercial space, your trusted HVAC repair contractor may recommend a packaged RTU. Also known as a packaged rooftop unit, this is a type of HVAC system that contains all the components necessary to provide conditioned air in one condensed unit.

You’ll commonly find packaged rooftop units in both large and small commercial applications. They’re actually very popular with retail and industrial properties, since they already come complete with all the main components, including the evaporator, compressor, air-cooled condenser and an expansion device. During installation, they’ll connect directly to the property’s ductwork system so that conditioned air can be distributed through it and back to the unit.

To understand more about RTUs and how they differ from conventional HVAC systems, our commercial and residential AC experts at Above Air Inc. give insight on what you need to know below:

How Packaged Rooftop Units Work 

The air will first return from the space and pass back to the packaged rooftop unit. Outdoor air is also sometimes brought into the unit and mixed with the return air so that it can produce fresher air flowing back to the space. At this point, the air moves through a rack of filters as it continues on to the cooling coil that chills the air as it runs over the refrigerant-filled coil. From here, the refrigerant is cooled in a standard refrigeration cycle. The air will then flow through the blower and leave conditioned and ready to be delivered throughout your space.

Some packaged rooftop units have small heating elements near the blowers to further adjust the humidity in the air. In packaged rooftop units, you’ll find a clear, insulated divide in the unit between the evaporator coils that cool the return air and the condenser coils and compressor ejecting heat to the atmosphere. A packaged rooftop unit will also include a basic thermostat, but depending on your preference, you can have a trusted HVAC repair technician program it to become part of a more elaborate control system in your commercial property.

Basic Parts of a Packaged Rooftop Unit 

Most packaged rooftop units are rectangular, with the parts inside assembled next to each other. What you’ll first likely notice from the outside is the casing. It’s made of metal, but a metal that’s much sturdier than that of an indoor unit. That’s because it has to withstand the elements. You’ll also notice the following:

  • Air hood – You’ll notice this on one side of the unit. It allows air from the outside to enter, and that’s what will get warmed or cooled before being distributed inside the building. There’s an awning on top of it for the air to enter underneath. This way, precipitation and debris can’t get in.

  • Dampers, filters and coils – The air passes through dampers, which are rotating metal sheets. These prevent air from escaping and can run at different speeds to regulate how much air gets in. After that are the filters, which work like those on any HVAC unit. If they need to be cleaned or replaced, a technician can get to them through an access panel. After passing through the filters, the air reaches the coils and transfers thermal energy.

How Is It Different?

The reason why it’s sometimes called a “packaged unit” is because it includes the components of an air conditioning and heating system that are normally sold separately. This is what makes the process different from installing other types of HVAC equipment such as water-cooled systems or split-system air conditioning condensers. However, they still require regular maintenance by professional HVAC repair technicians.

Depending on your preference, packaged rooftop units can also come with specialized applications. These are usually built for the outdoors, which also means additional insulation and parts are required for proper installation. Having one installed on your property provides all the heating and air conditioning needed for your space. The heated and cooled air reaches different areas of your commercial property just as well as any other HVAC system, and the unit still consumes less energy. This is only one of the many benefits you’ll get from packaged rooftop units. Some others are listed below.

The Benefits You’ll See 

  • Easier installation – Since most of the job was done at the factory, the overall RTU HVAC installation cost tends to be less than other types of HVAC systems.

  • Faster inspection and repairs – All the components are in one place, so it’s faster for HVAC technicians to diagnose and fix problems. Again, this lowers your costs.

  • Less space taken up – Except for the ductwork, the commercial AC is installed only on the roof. This means you won’t have to waste your indoor commercial space on air handling equipment.

  • Better energy efficiency – Like we mentioned earlier, packaged rooftop units use less energy compared to other HVAC systems. This is because all the components have been assembled and configured under optimal conditions, so the system works at maximum efficiency. This means you’ll see lower energy bills!

  • Improved durability – Depending on how they’re maintained, a typical packaged rooftop unit can last around 10 to 20 years. This includes normal exposure to natural elements such as rain, snow, wind and sun.

Should You Get One for Your Property?

Packaged rooftop units are commonly used for large, open spaces such as warehouses, box stores and shopping centers. Any type of single-story building is suited for such a system since the conditioned air doesn’t have to travel very far to get to the space. Of course, a commercial AC system can still be used in a multi-story building, but there should be accessible space on the roof and near the ductwork, and the building shouldn’t exceed 10 stories.

Restaurant kitchens also commonly use packaged rooftop units. It’s in settings such as these that they’re installed as a “make-up air unit”, where their function is to provide additional conditioned ventilation to replace the air that’s vented out through high-powered stove hoods.

When looking for an excellent commercial and residential AC technician, don’t hesitate to call Above Air Inc. You can reach us at (954) 833-6836 for Broward or (561) 488-0832 for Palm Beach. You can also fill out our convenient contact form to get started!