Today we will answer your question “Can the outdoor unit of air conditioner be installed on the roof? 

After buying an air conditioner, placing the outdoor unit or the condenser unit is the most common concern among the general mass. You have to keep in mind about the design and formation of the house, weather, surroundings, environment, neighbourhood etc. Here is how we can help you finalize your decision on whether the rooftop is the best place to install your outdoor unit of AC.

Can The Outdoor Unit Of Air Conditioner Be Installed On The Roof

Can The Outdoor Unit Of Air Conditioner Be Installed On The Roof?

You can surely install the outdoor unit of air conditioner on the roof. The outdoor AC unit contains the compressor pump and condenser coil and is often placed on the roof or on a concrete slab next to the house. It is important to consider placing the unit so that it does not receive direct sunlight, which can also increase your AC’s workload.

Things You Should Keep in Mind When placing the Outdoor Unit on the Roof

The place of installation of any outdoor unit of a split air conditioner should

  • Have ample natural flow of ambient air.
  • Be easily accessible to attend to service issues.
  • Be as close as possible to the indoor unit. Longer the distance, different would be the pipe size. 

If outdoor unit is installed too far away than a particular permissible limit,

  • Pipe size would change. This means the cost of piping would increase.
  • In order to ensure oil return during part load, providing a double return suction riser at the condensing unit would become necessary.
  • Return of oil from indoor unit end may become an issue if piping is not done under the supervision of an experienced knowledgeable HVAC engineer. Lower the oil returns higher the friction within the compressor, which may or will result in premature failure of the compressor.

Therefore, you may install the outdoor unit on the roof but depending on feasibility study by the AC supplying agency.

Tip: You can but in my opinion, you must not. The reason, your outdoor unit is throwing out the heat and when installed on roof where it receives more hot air due to hot roof surface, it is not able to dissipate the heat out and the compressors gets loaded, efficiency drops, cooling capacity reduces, energy consumption increases and finally hampers life of compressor.

Rooftop Installation or Ground Installation – Which Option is Better? 

What makes the installation of air conditioners a complex process, is the fact that generalisations do not serve as functional solutions to every application in consideration. Locating the outdoor unit is no different. Whether it is rooftop installation or ground installation, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

And, which option is better, depends on a specific application. The step entails certain key considerations, the exploration of which, dictates the better option for that individual case. For some homeowners, ground installation is a better option. For others, it is the rooftop installation.

Read more: Can a Split System Air Conditioner Be Installed On An Internal Wall?

What Should Be Kept In Mind When Choosing An Installation Location For Your AC Outdoor Unit?

1) The Climate

The climate of the area, in which you live, is one of the most important considerations to make when deciding between a ground installation and a rooftop installation.  

Homeowners, living in areas which tend to have warmer climates, should ideally prefer to install the outdoor unit on the ground. This is because, placing the unit on the rooftop means, exposing it to the scorching heat of the sun. Consequently, the air conditioner will not operate at optimum efficiency. 

Furthermore, an air conditioner, with its outdoor unit located on the rooftop, where the temperature tends to be high, would have to work at higher capacity to maintain the temperature of the indoors as set via the thermostat. This leads to extra billing and the components of the unit failing early, due to strained work load.

On the contrary, if your regional climate tends to remain dry, chances are that you would most likely prefer to install a swamp cooler. The outdoor unit of the swamp cooler requires connection with the ductwork, which in most homes across the United States, is deployed in the attic. 

As such, installing the outdoor unit on the rooftop is a better option, since it can be conveniently connected with the duct work. Along with installation convenience, the option also offers economic feasibility.

2) The Neighbourhood Trend

This advice is especially for homeowners, who rent out their properties to tenants. As such, your residential unit is your source of revenue, and any practice that directly affects your residential unit, affects your revenue stream.

So, let’s say, the majority of residential units in your neighbourhood have outdoor units installed on the ground, while you prefer to install it on the rooftop. This could make your property appear as an outlier in your neighbourhood, especially, if it’s located inside a gated community. 

Thus, it can consequently affect the rent appraisal process.  Your tenant may not be willing to pay you much in rent, as other landlords in your neighbourhood are getting paid.

But, What If You Don’t Have Enough Space In Your Yard?

Let us take the concern and guide you better. 

3) The Accessibility Factor

Wherever you place the outdoor unit, you have to keep it in mind that it’ll require further maintenance and replacement. So easy access to that place is a very important factor in case of placing the outdoor unit of air conditioner.

If the outdoor unit is installed on the rooftop, you’ll have to go all the way up to check it. But it becomes more convenient if it’s placed on the ground. 

At the same time you’ll be relieved of having any hassles or safety risks. Out of sight, Out of mind is another considerable thing that you should remind yourself to keep it maintained otherwise you’ll have to go through the repairing or replacing more than the warrantied life by the company and make the travel find your way home. 

 4) Room

One of the most common reasons why most of us choose a roof mounted AC unit is the amount of space it has. This can be an excellent solution for those who live in residential areas and do not have much space for their air-conditioning system. A ground mounted AC unit will not also be a problem if you have enough space in your yard. 

5) Security

Safety and security of the valuable AC unit is another factor that you should keep in mind. Nobody wants their expensive equipment to be stolen. The outdoor unit of air conditioner is surely an expensive home equipment and not all thieves will be courageous enough to steal it from the roof. But they may surely find it feasible to steal from the ground. 

6) Aesthetics

Being placed on the roof of your house, your roof-mounted AC unit can be harder to camouflage. With a ground-mounted AC unit, the situation looks more promising as you can camouflage the equipment by hiding it in bushes or other plants.

7) Maintenance

Being constantly out of sight, roof-mounted systems require more protection and maintenance, compared to ground-mounted systems that can be easily hidden from external risks. Consequently, this limited access to roof-mounted AC units causes more challenges for homeowners on the way to proper maintenance. Thus, a roof-mounted system will make you invest more physical resources into the maintenance process. At the same time, a ground-mounted unit has higher chances to be invaded by weeds and pests.

Are Window Air Conditioners Efficient

What are the Benefits of Instalment of Outdoor Unit of Air Conditioner on the Roof? 

Pros of Having the AC on the Roof

  • Size: The outdoor units of AC are very large and rooftop instalment allows the homeowner to place it at a convenient place.
  • Ease of Access: Rooftops offer plenty of open space, which means AC technicians will have an easier time accessing and repairing the units.
  • Fewer Disruptions: The outdoor units of AC can be very loud when in use, a rooftop placement can effectively reduce the sound you hear from them. 
  • Security: It will be difficult for the thieves to crawl up to the rooftop and steal the outdoor unit of AC. 
  • Less Debris: Rooftop ACs are far away and safe from dirt, dusts, debris that can clog ground based AC units, making breakdowns less likely. 
  • Lower Energy cost: Rooftop units push down cold naturally that falls, instead of pushing it up from the ground.

Cons of Having the AC on the Roof

  • Cost: Rooftop ACs are more expensive up-front and have much higher installation costs than ground units, usually due to their placement.
  • Weight:  Since they are all-in-one units, rooftop ACs are heavier than their ground-based counterparts, and not all roofs are capable of supporting the weight of an appropriate unit.
  • Harder to replace: Given their position, it can be very difficult to replace rooftop AC units and may in some cases require a crane.
  • Regulations: Some homeowners ban rooftop units. So, you will have to check if it is permitted or not before installing one. 

Rooftop AC vs. Ground Installation Cost

A typical ground installation costs about $4800, while prices for a rooftop installation can range anywhere from $5,500 to over $11,000 depending on the size of your building, but the price can climb even higher. 

Final Verdict

Overall, rooftop AC units offer a wide range of benefits and which make them attractive options to home and business owners. For most people, a rooftop placement can reduce daily disruptions, lower costs of repair, and free valuable real estate for more productive uses.

Despite the harsh climate, you can greatly extend the lifespan of your unit by staying up-to-date with regular maintenance. Whatever you choose, it’s important to speak with an expert to carefully evaluate your options before you decide to install or replace your own unit. 

Keep in mind that one risk to having a rooftop AC unit is the HVAC contractors walking on the roof and piercing the membrane. Always call a roofing contractor to ensure that the roof remains sound. 

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