Report shows opportunities and challenges in RTU market

The 2024 rooftop unit (RTU) research study highlights the most important factors for mechanical engineers

By Amara Rozgus May 29, 2024
Figure 1: According to respondents of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC & Mechanical Systems: Rooftop Units (RTUs) research study, the 2022 edition of ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is the most commonly used. Courtesy: Consulting-Specifying Engineer

RTU insights

  • Discover why office buildings are leading the charge in rooftop unit (RTU) specifications, with top brands like Carrier and Trane dominating the market and setting industry standards.
  • Uncover the key challenges and anticipated innovations in RTU technology, as industry professionals navigate compatibility issues and eagerly await advancements in efficiency and building management integration.

The Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC & Mechanical Systems: Rooftop Units (RTUs) research study highlights several key insights into the specification and usage of RTUs in various building types, the familiarity and reputation of different RTU brands, preferred sources of information, significant challenges and anticipated future innovations.

Commonly specified structures

Office buildings: 75% of respondents frequently specify RTUs for office buildings, making them the most common structure for these units.

Other structures: College/university buildings, government or military buildings and industrial/manufacturing facilities/warehouses are also frequently specified for RTUs, although to a lesser extent than office buildings.

Brand familiarity and reputation

Top brands: Carrier and Trane lead in brand familiarity, with 93% and 90% of respondents, respectively, recognizing them. Both brands are also considered industry leaders by a significant portion of respondents, with Trane at 62% and Carrier at 50%.

Other known brands: Daikin Applied and York are also well-known, with 88% and 81% of respondents familiar with these brands, respectively.

Brand importance: Brand reputation plays a crucial role in decision-making, being very important to 60% of respondents and important to an additional 37%.

Sources of information

Most popular sources:

  • Manufacturer lunch-and-learns are the most popular (68%).

  • Manufacturer/supplier websites are also widely used (56%).

Other sources:

  • Conferences and seminars are used by 51%.

  • Trade publications are referenced by 39%.

Figure 1: According to respondents of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC & Mechanical Systems: Rooftop Units (RTUs) research study, the 2022 edition of ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is the most commonly used. Courtesy: Consulting-Specifying Engineer

Figure 1: According to respondents of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC & Mechanical Systems: Rooftop Units (RTUs) research study, the 2022 edition of ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings is the most commonly used. Courtesy: Consulting-Specifying Engineer

Preferred educational and marketing materials:

  • Product information, reviews, datasheets and specifications are highly regarded by 67%.

  • Technical articles are valued by 56%.

  • Webcasts/webinars (52%) and case studies/application stories (39%) are also impactful.

Challenges in RTU integration and use

Integration issues:

  • Compatibility issues are a significant challenge for 62% of respondents.

  • Communication protocols are problematic for 42%.

Other challenges: Higher costs, size loading/matching and equipment efficiency and ratings are noted as significant obstacles.

Anticipated innovations

Efficiency and ratings: 56% of respondents anticipate improvements in equipment efficiency and ratings.

Integration with building automation systems/building management systems (BAS/BMS): 51% expect advancements in the integration of RTUs with BAS or BMS.

In summary, the study reveals that office buildings are the primary structures where RTUs are specified. Carrier and Trane dominate brand familiarity and reputation, with Daikin Applied and York also being well-recognized. Respondents rely heavily on manufacturer-hosted educational events and websites for information.

Key challenges include compatibility and communication issues with building management systems, alongside cost and efficiency concerns. Looking ahead, enhanced equipment efficiency and better integration with BAS/BMS are the most anticipated innovations in the RTU sector.

Register to download the detailed Consulting-Specifying Engineer HVAC & Mechanical Systems: Rooftop Units report.


Author Bio: Amara Rozgus is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader