The new trend in Chicago’s rehab construction is to place the air conditioner’s condensing unit on the roof. To many this may sound like a crazy idea, but this trend is one of the best things that have happened in HVAC system design in years! I don’t know whose idea it was, but my hat is off to him or her. As with any decision though, the pros and cons to placing an air conditioner on a rooftop must be weighed against one another. Here is a list of the pros and cons that I have discovered from my first hand experience as an HVAC service technician:
- The theft rate of roof mounted air conditioning units is all most non existent.
- A/C units stay cleaner for a longer period of time when placed on a rooftop. They aren’t exposed to as much dust, dirt, and other coil clogging debris that ground level units battle all year round.
- Rooftop units are out of harms way. Any time kids are playing ball or just goofing around, accidents can happen and can lead to hefty repair bills.
- When you place an a/c on a rooftop, the backyard has more open space for landscaping, patios or whatever else you may desire. An average a/c unit takes up about 6 square feet of valuable yard space. When you live in the city, having a tiny backyard is common, and every inch of space becomes valuable.
- Noisy condensers can interfere with backyard activities. When the air conditioner is up on the roof, you can’t hear it running.
- Yearly maintenance of the condensing unit is a little more difficult when the system in up on a roof. The technician will need to bring a latter, and the water source needed to clean the condenser coil is usually a water faucet at ground level. This means hauling a hose up to the roof is necessary.
- Out of sight out of mind. Forgetting the air conditioner needs regular maintenance can increase your electric bills. Roof top mounted units still get dirty, and dirty units don’t run efficiently.
- The only other con of placing your system at rooftop level is the possibility of storm damage. Although ground level units are also prone to weather damage, a rooftop unit can attract lightning or suffer damage from a falling tree branch. Although unlikely, it is still a possibility.
I believe that the pros defiantly outweigh the cons in this particular situation. Everything I’ve seen points to putting the air conditioners condensing unit on the roof. This is a winning idea, and I hope this trend continues in Chicago’s rehab and new construction. With any luck this idea will make its way into the suburbs next!