Air conditioning systems aren’t limited to homes; they are commonly found in offices, factories and other commercial buildings as well. If a commercial building is regularly occupied, it will likely have an air conditioning system. Residential and commercial air conditioning systems consist of similar parts, but there are several nuances between them.
Not surprisingly, residential air conditioning systems are typically smaller than commercial air conditioning systems. Most of them range from 1.5 to 5 tons. Commercial air conditioning systems, on the other hand, have an average cooling capacity of over 5 tons. Commercial buildings have more indoor space that must be cooled, so they require larger air conditioning systems with a cooling capacity of over 5 tons.
While they contain many of the same parts, residential and commercial air conditioning systems are installed in different areas. Condenser units are always installed outdoors. For residential air conditioning systems, the condenser unit is typically installed on the ground near the side of the house. For commercial air conditioning systems, the condenser unit may be installed on the ground or roof.
Commercial buildings feature larger, stronger roofs than most homes. Therefore, they can support the weight of a heavy condenser unit. There are some homes with a roof-installed air conditioning system, but most residential air conditioning systems use a ground-based installation method.
Commercial air conditioning systems are often zoned. Zoning is the process is segmenting an indoor space into multiple cooling zones. Each cooling zone can be controlled independently of the other cooling zones. They typically have their own thermostats, and the ductwork features dampers to independently control the cooling zones.
Residential air conditioning systems can have zones as well. But zoning is more common with commercial air conditioning systems. Commercial air conditioning systems are designed to cool large indoor spaces. Some of these spaces may require separate cooling than the other spaces, which is why commercial air conditioning systems are often zoned.
Another difference between residential and commercial air conditioning systems is their drainage. Both types of air conditioning systems have a drainage system for condensation. When absorbing heat at the evaporator coil, condensation will form. The evaporator coil will essentially pull moisture vapor out of the air. All of this moisture must be flushed to the home’s or building’s exterior via a drainage system.
Commercial air conditioning systems will produce more condensation than their residential counterparts. And because they produce more condensation, they require larger and more complex drainage systems.