Packaged Units vs. RTU's

What is the difference between packaged units and RTU"s?

Hey @molls808; I did a little research and can’t quite seem to find a ‘difference’. From what I’m finding, they’re typically the same thing. Do you have an example listing them as different systems?

Hi There, in today’s Virtual PDD Meet up it was discussed as the following:

RTU’s: For a medium commercial project.

Packaged:Small units.

I may have miss understood this, but I cannot find more information on this.

Hmm. Let’s see if @Lara can provide some insight for this one.

I’ll reach out to the coach that hosted yesterday’s workshop and see if we can get your question answered.

Hi @molls808,

What may be confusing you is the use of the term “packaged unit.” (Indeed, it is used in many different ways and can be confusing!)

The term “packaged unit” or “packaged system” simply refers to a type of air handling system that includes all components in one unit, and locates them in one place. This is opposed to a “split system” which separates the components, and which places them at different locations.

There are different kinds of packaged systems, and different kinds of split systems. Let’s focus on packaged systems since “packaged units” and RTU’s both commonly fall within this category. The key distinction is their size, and application.

A rooftop unit (RTU) is simply an air handling system that is located on the roof, and typically sized for commercial projects. It can be used for air conditioning, heating, or both, depending upon the needs of the client and the climate. When components are combined for heating and cooling, the RTU becomes one kind of a packaged unit. You might want to check out “The Engineering Mindset” website which has a nice explanation of RTU’s. (other systems explained as well)

The term “packaged unit’’ is often used colloquially to refer to a small air handling system, typically sized for a house, and which can be located anywhere, (but typically in an attic or basement).

Now to really confuse you, packaged units as per the above can even be located on the roofs of single family homes!

Hope it helps! We’ll go through this in today’s Q+A as well.


Thank you! This is very helpful.

6300 N. Northwest Highway P.O. Box 31846, Chicago, IL 60631-9998 / All rights reserved © 2020 Black Spectacles.