Should You Get A Rooftop HVAC Unit?

Blog Should You Get A Rooftop HVAC Unit?
Rooftop HVAC Units - Springbank Mechanical Toronto HVAC Company

When exploring HVAC options for commercial buildings, many property managers take a close look at rooftop HVAC units (RTU’s) for the number of specific benefits they offer over split systems.

RTU’s are generally used for low-rise buildings with large, open spaces such as department stores, shopping malls, warehouses, factories, and more. They’re best suited for single-story installations because the air doesn’t have to travel far to the internal space. However, they’re also popular with multistorey buildings less than nine stories high, as long as there is ample space on the roof and appropriate ductwork already in place.


How Are Rooftop HVAC Units Different Than Other Systems?

Many HVAC systems contain components that can be installed on a building’s roof, such as split-system air condensers or water-cooled chillers. The main difference between these systems and RTU’s is that RTU’s are wholly self-contained rooftop systems. This makes maintenance easier because the coils, compressors, fans, heat sources, and air intakes that make up your HVAC system are all in the same convenient location.

Many RTU configurations are available to satisfy the individual needs of any commercial property. Rooftop HVAC units can be programmed to heat or cool a single zone, or an entire building filled with many zones. Specific units can be configured specifically for make-up air, in which only outside air is treated and sent into the indoor space, or you can opt for a mix of outside air mixed with returned indoor air.


The Benefits Of Using An RTU

If you’re unsure about whether an RTU is suitable for your commercial property, here are some of the benefits you should consider:

  • High energy-efficiency: Inverter compressors, belt-less ECM fans, and energy recovery solutions make RTUs very energy-efficient
  • Installation is simple: All the components come pre-installed in the unit, so installation is faster, easier, and less expensive than split systems
  • They save indoor space: Premium indoor space won’t be wasted on air handling equipment and can be used to generate income
  • Easier access: With all the components in one place, HVAC technicians will be able to diagnose and fix problems much faster
  • Better security: Rooftop units are largely out of reach for thieves and vandals, protecting your equipment from costly damage caused intentionally
  • Quieter operation: Since all the components are on the outside of the building, tenants won’t be disturbed by operational noise

As numerous as the benefits are, RTUs aren’t for everyone. For example, if it’s difficult to access the roof or little rooftop space, an RTU might not be the best choice. Also, keep in mind that although these units are constructed for outdoor use, they’ll still be continually exposed to the outdoor elements, including high heat, extreme cold, wind, rain, snow, ice, and pollution. Due to their location away from humans and traffics, animals might find your RTU and a handy nesting spot and possibly damage some of the equipment.

Always consult with a qualified HVAC technician to discuss your options so you make the most informed choice about your system.


What’s New In Rooftop HVAC Units?

Springbank Mechanical Systems is always looking for ways our customers can reduce their carbon footprint and save money. The Lennox Model /L is the latest evolution in RTU technology designed to help property owners achieve both of those objectives.

An AHR Expo 2021 Innovation Award Finalist, the new Model /L features the all-new Lennox CORE™ Control System and Service App. The innovative unit controller drives advanced variable-speed technology throughout the machine, from fans to compressors, to maximize energy savings and space comfort.

Premium diagnostic features reduce installation, service, and maintenance expenses to provide the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry. Available sizes range from 3 tons to 25 tons, and all come with premium energy optimization. For example, the 20-ton unit offers an ROI on energy savings within just 2 – 3 years. The larger the unit, the faster the ROI energy savings.

These units also have better dehumidification control due to the advanced compressor technology and blower logic control. IAQ solutions can be customized at the time of order or installed afterward. The unit controller, “CORE™ Control System”, delivers optimized unit efficiency and open integration. The Lennox CORE™ Service App puts installation, service, and maintenance in the palm of your hand with Bluetooth connection capability.

If you have any questions about which RTU will bring you the most energy savings, give us a call anytime. We’d be happy to show you how we can help optimize your HVAC system for years to come.

Gregg Little, Paul De Thomasis, and Hugo Lopes are co-owners of Springbank Mechanical Systems. They can be reached at 905-569-8990, or via email at or or

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