The rooftop air conditioner is a staple for commercial spaces in smaller cities. But what about New York City? Could it work for your business? Here’s what you need to know.
The best NYC locations for a rooftop air conditioner
A rooftop air conditioner (or RTU) is the natural choice of systems for the large warehouses that line New York City’s outer boroughs. With no competition for rooftop space and only a single story to mount, warehouse owners default to the benefits of the RTU’s self-contained system.
Big box retail
The retail industry is also served well by the rooftop air conditioner, especially big-box stores, malls and shopping centers. Stores located in lower Manhattan buildings of about 10 stories or less can take advantage of the RTU’s optimal large-space treatment, too.
Benefits of a rooftop air conditioner for businesses
By employing the thermodynamics of cool air sinking, the rooftop air conditioner can cool large spaces with a minimal amount of energy. This means lower electric bills year-round.
In fact, according to the HVACR industry news site achrnews.com, the latest rooftop air conditioning technology can “net a typical building owner $4,200-$10,100 over the life of a single rooftop air conditioner.”
Easier & less expensive repairs
In contrast to the more time-consuming diagnostics for systems that are spread throughout a building, an HVAC technician can go straight to the RTU and start the repair. That means an efficient and cost-effective maintenance process.
If you are considering investing in a new RTU, you’ll be relieved to hear that the process is not as daunting as you may think. Upgrading to a newer, more efficient rooftop air conditioner is often an easy transition since the ductwork is already installed in the building.
TIP: Have an HVAC expert evaluate your specific needs to create the right conditions for your business AND reduce your energy bills. For example, a knowledgeable contractor can plan for the temperature differential in a warehouse’s loading dock. By tailoring your new rooftop air conditioner to best serve your operations process, you’ll be positioning your business for increased success.
Challenges to know about
High-rise rooftop access
Installing a huge self-contained unit with limited rooftop space and access can be a logistical challenge. Also, access to power outlets and water sources are crucial to RTU cleaning and repair. A lack of these resources on high-rise buildings can prove a hindrance to proper maintenance.
Limitations in historic buildings
To complicate things further, plans for the extensive pipework needed to support RTUs in large NYC buildings often meet restrictions from historic landmark regulations.
If these issues rule out a rooftop air conditioner for you, what else should you consider?
The best alternatives to rooftop air conditioners
Due to these factors, retailers, restaurants and offices in Manhattan’s high-rise buildings tend to pass on the rooftop air conditioner, and opt for newer Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems instead.
Restaurants in particular are attracted to its remarkably quiet operation and energy efficiency. Additionally, the VRF technology simultaneously calibrates heating and cooling. It even allows for control of isolated zones – which means the kitchen can be cooled while the dining room is heated.
Base building systems
High-rise buildings of 30 stories or more, the homes of countless NYC offices, often operate with a “base” HVAC system. Base systems provide centralized air control for the entire building, and the mechanics of their equipment eliminate the rooftop air conditioner as an option for tenants.
In these cases, businesses are left to select the design for distributing the central cooling that best suits the purpose of their space. What’s known as “water-cooled base systems” are the most common systems in high-rise buildings used primarily for office space, and careful forethought is well-spent in their air distribution designs. For instance, the base system servicing the employee workspace during work hours may not provide the 24/7 cooling required for the computer room.
With all the options out there, you may be struggling to identify the right type of air conditioning system for your business. Here’s a resource that makes it easy to figure out what works best for different types of businesses and NYC spaces:
An expert’s help can bring savings through the roof!
Whether base system, VRF or RTU, regular maintenance is the key to avoiding expensive emergency repairs. Too often when poorly maintained systems break down unexpectedly, businesses that bring in the first available contractor are charged high prices for low-quality repairs. There’s also the business and productivity you lose due to an AC outage.
By including a yearly contract with a trusted contractor in your budget, you’ll be saving yourself from the red ink of that inconvenient repair.