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How to Buy & Monitor RTU HVAC Systems

By Andrew Erickson

September 15, 2022


A rooftop unit for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is known as an "RTU HVAC". Just like choosing any HVAC system, there are certain things you must look for.

Also, just like any HVAC system, you must monitor the health of your rooftop unit to maximize its lifespan - and to ensure that the building environment stays cool.

Let's review the basics of RTU HVAC selection so you can plan your purchase (or even just understand the system you inherited with your job).

How to choose the correct RTU HVAC for your building

There are a variety of RTU HVAC systems on the market. The first step is to choose the system that is right for your building:

  1. Is an RTU actually the best choice for your building? (for many large buildings, this is an obvious "yes")
  2. Do you need a single-stage or two-stage compressor?
  3. What type of air handler do you need - one that blows air horizontally or vertically?
  4. Do you want a gas-fired, electric, or oil-fired system?
  5. Air cooled? Condenser coil? Heat pump?
  6. The capacity of the system is another important consideration. What is the maximum BTU output that you need to handle your indoor space? The unit must be sized correctly for the square footage of the building.
  7. What is your requirement for power consumption? Do you need an RTU HVAC that is particularly energy efficient?
  8. What weight can your roof support? (This isn't often an issue, but it's obviously something that is a major problem if you get it wrong)
  9. Do you need any special filtering to manage air quality?

These are all important questions to answer as you start shopping for an RTU HVAC system.

Capacity is particularly important. If the system is too small for the building, it will have to work overtime to keep the building comfortable - and will likely break down more often. If the system is too large, it will cycle on and off too frequently (killing its long-term lifespan) and won't dehumidify the air properly.

In both cases, you'll end up spending more money on energy costs than you need to.

A qualified HVAC manufacturer, distributor, or contractor can help you choose the right RTU HVAC system for your building.

It's a little odd, but "RTU" can actually mean a few very different things

In the context of HVAC, "RTU" stands for rooftop unit. Its only defining characteristic is that is installed on a roof.

Of course, once you have an RTU HVAC system installed, it's important to monitor it regularly to ensure that it is running properly.

Remote Telemetry Units, or RTUs, are used in a variety of industries to relay information from a remote location back to a central monitoring station. These remote-monitoring RTUs can be installed to monitor and remotely control just about anything, including your RTU HVAC.

Let's not even start with a certain college campus in India that also bears the initials "RTU". I only know about that from running this website and noticing odd search traffic from educational keywords. Fortunately, that's a third definition of RTU that isn't relevant here.

The first two definitions, however, are both relevant here. Let's walk through that now:

A remote monitoring "RTU" is a specialized device that can monitor your RTU HVAC

I told you this would get a little confusing. To recap, you can potentially have a Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) monitoring your rooftop unit HVAC (RTU HVAC). Both are called "RTU", but that's just a random coincidence of English words. Language is funny sometimes.

Remote monitoring devices allow building owners and managers to keep an eye on their HVAC system - even when they're not on site.

RTUs can be used for both commercial and residential buildings. They provide a way to monitor and troubleshoot problems with the HVAC system, as well as schedule maintenance tasks.

If you're considering installing a remote monitoring RTU in your building, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure the monitoring device is compatible with your existing (or planned purchase) HVAC system. Second, ensure that you have a good network connection (or wireless coverage) at the site so that the RTU can communicate with the monitoring station.

Third, make sure you have a qualified technician install the monitoring equipment and set it up correctly. Finally, create a plan for monitoring and maintaining it so that it stays in good working order. You must protect the systems that protect your HVAC.

I have connections for RTU HVAC advice and can help you with remote monitoring equipment directly

If you need help with your RTU HVAC system, or are considering installing a remote monitoring RTU in your building, I can help.

I have connections with major HVAC users, particularly in telecom and data center contexts. If you call and ask me a question, I'll get their veteran advice about what you should do.

Of course, as a manufacturer of remote monitoring RTUs, I can cover that for you directly without needing to call anyone else at all.

Featured remote monitoring equipment: The HVAC Controller from DPS Telecom

The HVAC Controller from DPS Telecom is a remotely-managed device that can monitor and control your RTU HVAC system.

It's designed for telecom huts & small buildings, but can be used in any type of building. The controller has an Ethernet connection, a variety of I/O, and purpose-built firmware to achieve modern "smart HVAC control". Considering how much power the typical HVAC system consumes, this can really be a huge savings for you.

The HVAC Controller includes:

  • Web-based GUI for easy configuration
  • SNMPv3 for secure network management
  • Email & SMS alerts for HVAC system status
  • Automatic HVAC maintenance scheduling
  • Remote access and control of the HVAC system

If you're interested in learning more about the HVAC Controller, or any of our other remote monitoring products and services, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Give me a call to discuss your project and ask questions

That's it for this quick overview of RTU HVAC and remote monitoring best practices! I hope you found it helpful.

If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call. I'll be happy to discuss your project with you and answer any questions you have:

  • Call 1-800-693-0351
  • Email sales@dpstele.com
Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...