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Why Are AC Units on the Roof in Las Vegas?

[fa icon="calendar"] May 27, 2021 11:27:00 AM / by Krystal Coddington

Krystal Coddington

why are ac units on the roof in las vegas?

If you’re new to Las Vegas, you’ve probably noticed the rooftop AC units dotting the Valley. The city’s hot desert climate makes them a must for any home or business owner.

Why is that?

A rooftop air conditioner placement offers many advantages in terms of cost, maintenance, and safety, making it the default choice for many builders. Before buying a property or installing an AC unit, it helps to know why this placement makes the most sense.

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Why Are AC Units on the Roof in Las Vegas?

It’s typical for commercial building rooftops in Las Vegas to have AC units, but there’s more variation among residential properties. Many use central air conditioning systems in which the cooling and heating components are split between and indoor and outdoor unit.

The outdoor unit typically has a heat exchanger, compressor, and a fan. However, it relies on the indoor unit’s own fan and evaporative heat exchanger to move air throughout the home. This means there are more parts that need to be checked in order to identify the source of any breakdown.

Most Common Reasons For Rooftop AC Units

Rooftop air conditioning is particularly attractive in Las Vegas for several reasons.

  1. Ease of repair: Rooftop ACs are all-in-one units, meaning a technician doesn’t have to start up individual sections or search through the tubes connecting the indoor and outdoor units to find out where a failure has occurred.
  2. Gravity: Rooftop units also avoid the problem of needing to push cold air upwards, allowing them to run longer and with less energy than indoor units.
  3. Smaller lots: Newer homes in the Valley are typically built on smaller lots than older homes in the city. Rooftop units free up precious space on the ground for recreation.

Air conditioning is essential for those living in the Vegas area, which means units need to be easy to maintain, affordable to operate, and nonintrusive. Rooftop AC units satisfy all three of these criteria.

What Are the Benefits of Rooftop AC Unit Installation?

For many businesses and homeowners in Las Vegas, a rooftop AC offers the optimal set of advantages.

Pros of Having the AC on the Roof in the Southwest

  • Size: AC units are very large and a rooftop placement allows homeowners and businesses to maximize the use of valuable real estate.
  • Ease of access: Rooftops offer plenty of open space, which means AC technicians have an easier time accessing and repairing units placed there.
  • Fewer disruptions: AC units can be very loud when in use, and a rooftop placement can greatly reduce the sound that you hear from them.
  • Security: Most rooftops are only accessible from the interior of a building, making it difficult for thieves or vandals to access an AC unit placed on it.
  • Less debris: Rooftop ACs are far from many sources of dirt and debris that can clog ground-based units, making breakdowns less likely.
  • Maintenance: Rooftop ACs contain all of their components in a single unit, making them easier to repair compared to ground-based ACs, which split their components between inside and outside units. AC technicians have an easier time accessing rooftop units and much more space to work with them if it needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Lower energy costs: Rooftop units can use physics to their advantage, pushing down cold air that naturally falls, instead of pushing it up from ground level.

Cons of Having the AC on the Roof in the Southwest

  • Cost: Rooftop ACs are more expensive up-front and have much higher installation costs than ground units, usually due to their placement.
  • Harder to replace: Given their position, it can be very difficult to replace rooftop AC units and may in some cases require a crane.
  • 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.
  • Regulations: Some homeowners associations ban rooftop units, so you will want to check to see if they are allowed before installing one.

Rooftop AC Unit Cost

The cost to install a rooftop AC unit will vary depending on the brand you decide to purchase, the size of your building, along with its purpose and cooling needs. According to Angie’s List, you can expect to pay anywhere from several hundred to $1000 more for a rooftop unit and up to twice as much in installation costs relative to ground-based units.

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.

Repair Costs for Rooftop AC

If you need to repair a rooftop unit, you might have to pay additional labor costs, especially if your unit is positioned on a slope. Technicians may face greater dangers when working on a rooftop, especially if technicians have to work at an angle to fix your unit.

Costs to repair your unit will depend on the conditions of your roof and the particular problems with your AC unit. However, older units are generally less-efficient than modern ones and may use hard to find components, which can make replacement a better option than repair in many cases.

Is It Worth It?

Overall, rooftop AC units offer a wide range of benefits that are especially useful in Las Vegas and which make them attractive options to home and business owners here. 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.

Las Vegas' Premier Roofing Contractor For Homes and Businesses

Rooftop AC units need regular maintenance, and so does your roof. Any problems impacting your AC unit, especially leaks, can also impact your roof - and vice versa. By scheduling regular maintenance for your residential or commercial building, you can protect the value of your property and avoid even more costly roof repairs or AC breakdowns later on.

Download Our Free Roofing Guide

Krystal Coddington

Written by Krystal Coddington