Rooftop or Ground Level – Where’s the Best Place to Install Your New Air Conditioning Unit?

The month of July is often do-or-die for many Arizona air conditioning systems. If a breakdown occurs halfway through summer, with months of triple digit temperatures still ahead, it’s difficult to squeeze one more year out of an old unit. Rather than spend thousands on yet another repair, it may be wise to replace. If you are considering a new HVAC system for your home, placement of your air conditioning unit is a key decision you’ll need to make. Whether you opt for a rooftop unit or a ground level system, there’s advantages and disadvantages to both.

What’s the Difference Between Rooftop and Ground Systems?

The main differences between rooftop package units and ground level systems are:

  • All-in-one rooftop packages are self-contained units with all components located in one place.
  • Rooftop systems occupy otherwise unused space on your roof.
  • Rooftop units require no square footage in your home, no footprint on the ground surrounding your house.
  • In split ground HVAC systems, components are installed indoors and outdoors and are connected by refrigerant tubing.
  • The indoor section (often located in a service closet) contains the fan, heating apparatus, evaporator coil and air filters.
  • The outdoor section of a split system is comprised of the condenser and compressor.
  • Split systems offer somewhat more flexibility.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Rooftop Air Conditioners and Ground Level Split Systems?



Pros: Being self-contained, rooftop units have fewer connections and a slightly less chance for breakdowns. Rooftop units tend to be more energy efficient. The fact that the unit is off the ground means you don’t have to sacrifice significant square footage in the area surrounding your home. Many homeowners feel noise is less noticeable with a rooftop system. Security is also a factor. Rooftop units are less likely to be vandalized or pilfered for copper parts. As well, rooftop units are not as susceptible to falling branches or debris during storms.

Cons: New rooftop units can be slightly more expensive to buy, and the cost of installation is higher because rooftop units require a crane. Maintenance is undoubtedly easier on ground units. Rooftop units are unprotected and exposed to the elements. For many homeowners, rooftop units are literally easier to forget because they are out of sight. This can present problems in terms of regular maintenance.

Ground Level Split System

Pros: Split systems offer more options for homeowners and can be customized for special needs. In some cases, HOAs have rules preventing rooftop installations. Ground level units provide easier access (no ladder required), in terms of maintenance. Because the parts are separate and accessible, swapping out individual components can be less expensive than replacing an entire package unit.

Cons: Some homeowners consider ground level systems unsightly, and they require a fair amount of open space for air circulation around the unit. Noise from the compressor can be a distraction if it’s located near the pool, patio or bedroom window. Ground level systems are unfortunately susceptible to hooligans and thieves. Split systems can be more expensive to maintain.
In terms of overall expense, there is no clear choice favorite. The advantages and disadvantages, costs and savings tend to even out over the long run for both systems. Your best bet is to consult a professional who will guide you in the choice and placement of your new unit.

Expert Installation by Experienced Professionals Is the Key

If you are considering purchasing a new air conditioning system for your home, the most important decision you’ll make is choosing the right company for the job. There are no substitutes for experience, and there are no shortcuts when it comes to first-rate installation. Call Bruce’s today for a professional assessment of your air conditioning needs.