Phoenix Heating & Cooling Experts
Is a Rooftop AC Installation Right for You?

Is a Rooftop AC Installation Right for You?

Drive through most any neighborhood in Phoenix and you’ll likely spot several air conditioning systems chugging away on rooftops. These aren’t just any heating or cooling systems. As the name implies, rooftop units are actually designed for an above-ground installation, making them very different than the conventional HVAC appliances that are commonly placed on the sides of houses.

The rooftop AC system has several advantages which might make it a good fit for your home.

The Difference Between Rooftop AC and Central Air Systems

While both will provide the same level of comfort and deliver conditioned air through your home’s ductwork, each is uniquely designed.

Central Air

This is a split system, meaning some components are inside your home and others are outside. The condensing unit contains the compressor, compressor fan, and a heat exchanger and is typically mounted on a concrete pad on the sideyard. Inside the home, the furnace houses an evaporative heat exchanger and fan.

Rooftop Unit

In contrast to the split-system configuration, a roof-mounted unit is self-contained. All the moving parts needed to cool or heat your home are included in one appliance which is affixed to the roof and forces cool or warm air through the ductwork.

Advantages of a Rooftop System

More Efficient

Hot air rises. Cold air sinks. A rooftop system benefits from this because it doesn’t have to work as hard to pull hot air up or push cold air down. In terms of efficiency, this gives the roof-mounted unit an edge over its ground-level counterpart, which must use faster fan speeds to force conditioned air through the ductwork. Plus, it’s bypassing the furnace, delivering cool air directly to your home from the source.

Space Saver

In tight lots where ground space is at a premium, it might be difficult to squeeze past a condensing unit on your way to the backyard. And neighbors might complain if the appliance is located directly under their window. A rooftop installation solves these problems. Plus, an above-ground system won’t get crowded by vegetation, which drops efficiency, or infested by critters, which can do serious damage to the unit.

The Drawbacks of a Rooftop System


While rooftop AC units have become smaller over the years, some people still consider them an eyesore. And some homeowner associations outright forbid them. If you live in a community with an HOA, a rooftop installation might not be an option.

Cost More

Expect to pay more for a roof-mounted system. This type of unit can cost hundreds of dollars more compared to a split system. Installation can be more costly, too. The process will require a ladder, pulleys and several harnessed technicians to attach the appliance to your roof. A retrofit of your ductwork will also be required.

Both Need Upkeep

Keep in mind also routine AC maintenance. No matter which you choose, roof mounted or split system, both will require two annual tune-ups, and each will have its own environmental conditions to contend with. Rooftop units will have to operate in full view of the punishing Arizona sun while ground-level appliances will encounter vegetation and pests.

Bottom line: Consult your professional HVAC technician to determine if a rooftop installation would meet your needs and budget. Custom Cooling can walk you through the considerations and help you pick the best system for your comfort. To schedule an appointment, call 602-428-9007.


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