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Differences Between Residential and Commercial HVAC

Differences Between Residential and Commercial HVAC

Differences Between Residential and Commercial HVAC

When it’s time to perform maintenance on your HVAC system, it can be tempting to look at residential unit solutions; they’re often less expensive and more simple to perform.

However, this could be a drastic mistake. If this maintenance is under-performed, you could end up paying more money in the long run, while also feeling the heat of frustration. That’s why it’s important to understand the differences between both of these systems.

Residential and commercial HVAC systems both ultimately serve the same purpose: to control the temperature of the environment they’re in. However, they also have many key differences.

For instance, they require different levels of power to operate. They also have varying levels of size, location, complexity, drainage, and more. We invite you to read further to compare these systems, and how they uniquely function in their respective settings.


Residential HVAC systems are commonly located on the side of a house, or in the backyard. This makes them easy to access by a technician while also staying out of sight for aesthetic reasons.

Commercial HVAC systems, on the other hand, are typically located on the roof of their building. This is to accommodate their larger size, prevent noise disturbances, minimize any tampering with the unit, and provide technicians with a safe and non-obtrusive location to perform maintenance on the system.

Size & Complexity

Commercial HVAC systems are notably larger than residential systems. This is because they are expected to maintain the temperature of a much larger area than residential units are.

They’re also more complex than residential systems! In a large commercial building, you may want to have control over partitioned areas of the building. This requires more complex design and functionality, and will certainly require a more elaborate draining system than most residential units would need.

Maintenance Requirements & Cost

A more complex system requires a deeper knowledge of unit maintenance. In many cases, home HVAC systems can be maintained by the homeowner, or via a quick visit by a technician.

This is not the case for commercial systems. For these systems, it is necessary to hire an experienced technician who is familiar with a unit’s functionality and build in order to provide proper care. This means, of course, that the cost of maintaining a commercial HVAC system will be much higher.


The mechanism of a commercial HVAC system can vary depending on the structure of the building it’s meant to serve. These units are often given a modular design, whereas residential systems typically exist as a standalone unit that’s split between the inside and outside of a home.

Because a commercial system has a modular design housed in a single unit, the different components can be easily found and tended to in one place. This is also a more conducive design for expanding or modifying the unit in some way, which a residential unit would not be capable of.


Just about every part of a commercial HVAC system is larger than what you would find in a residential system, including the draining system. Because residential units are smaller, they usually only require one drain pan that’s located outside of the house.

A commercial system though, will require a much more intensive drainage system with multiple pipes and pans that ensure 100% evaporation, and reduce the chance that it might overflow.

At the End of the Day

Residential and commercial HVAC systems will both provide their respective settings with the temperature control that is expected of them, granted in very different levels of scope! So long as you’re happy and comfortable where you are, you can be rest assured that your unit is achieving the goal it sets out for.

Contact us to learn how you can find a qualified residential or commercial HVAC technician!

At the Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating in Houston, TX students have the opportunity to learn true-to-life skills that will immediately transfer into a career in air conditioning and heating! Are you interested in becoming a certified HVAC technician?

We offer flexible classes, financing options, and hands-on experience that’ll prepare you for work opportunities after graduation.

The Essential HVAC Tool List

The Essential HVAC Tool List

So you’ve decided to pursue a career as an HVAC technician. What tools will you need going into a training class? There are several standard tools every technician should have, though you’ll likely have specialized tools suggested or even provided once you advance in your career.

HVAC Tool List For Every Technician

HVAC technicians use a wide variety of tools. From hammers to testing kits, the experienced HVAC technician should know how to use their tools properly. Click To Tweet Tools should be well maintained and cared for. Here are some essential tools you’ll need as an HVAC technician:

Measuring Tape

You’ll need at least one measuring tape to do almost every job as an HVAC tech. This means that your measuring tape will be used several times a day.  It should be durable and easy to use, and it would be wise to carry a backup with you as well.

Hand Tools

HVAC technicians use hand tools extensively. Hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, wire strippers and wrenches will be utilized again and again, making them a crucial investment. Although it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest sets, they will not last. Technicians will also want a cordless drill, though that will not replace hand drills, as they both play an important role in HVAC repair.   

Ductwork Tools

Ductwork installation and repair tools may look similar to hand tools but do very different things. Hand tools would not be efficient in repairing ductwork. Tin snips, crimpers, hand seamers and an awl are a few ductwork tools you’ll need. Without these tools, ductwork will be tedious and inefficient

Testing Kits

Testing kits are absolutely vital for the safety of every technician. Multimeters will be your go-to tool to protect yourself from possible electrocution. The multimeter checks for electrical currents to determine if there is any voltage present.  Working on a unit that is still connected to power can prove fatal.Technicians also frequently use thermometers, to detect changes in temperature that could signal a problem. This is not nearly the same as a thermometer you would use to check for a fever!

Step Ladder

When you’re preparing for a job, don’t overlook the step ladder. Some HVAC technicians rely on the homeowner’s ladder, but that’s both unprofessional and not always available. If you are servicing units you’ll need a step ladder several times a week.

Safety Gear

Beside the tools needed to get the job done, you’ll need a few things to protect yourself. Gloves, protective eyewear and a mask when necessary are all important to have, especially when working around insulation or dangerous materials.

Contact Us to learn more about the tools and experience needed for an HVAC career.